2mm Holywell Town.

Discussion in 'Layout Progress' started by adrian, 5 January 2015.

  1. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    As if I didn't have enough projects on the go I decided to start a new layout project - Holywell Town.

    Holywell Town was a small LNWR branch line in North Wales, I stumbled across it from an article in the British Railway Journal, where the best I can describe it is as "quaint". An "interesting" 1:27 gradient up to the station and an unfeasibly short headhunt access to the goods yard.

    Holywell copy.png

    It even got drawn up as a track plan by C.J. Freezer.


    At the moment I've come to realise that I just don't have the room for the Scale7 layout I have planned - once the kids move off to uni then their rooms may well be "requisitioned!". So I've scaled back my plans to something more modest and have been spending the Christmas break working on this project, I've managed to negotiate room space to get this one built!

    In scanning the web for background research I recently managed to find some cracking photo's on www.colourrail.com who have graciously allowed me to post these images with the appropriate copyright. Judging by the wreath on the loco I suspect this was the last train to run on the line.

    holywell town.jpg
    holywell town (1).jpg
    holywell town (2).jpg
    holywell town (3).jpg

    These postcard images also give a flavour for the station. The head shunt after the station is unfeasibly short - such that the goods trains had to use the station loop line on approach to get enough clearance over the turnout into the goods yard. Note also the catch points embedded within the turnout. The original intention was to extend the line through to Mold so the head shunt really should have extended into a tunnel underneath Holywell Town.

    Holywell Town Station.  1932.jpg

    I had grabbed these images before the article in MRJ but I will re-iterate the wonderful resource that is www.britainfromabove.org.uk. These images show how compact the station was, these images show a white column attached to the side of the over bridge. This was a vacuum powered luggage lift. There was a large vacuum cylinder the other side of the bridge that could be recharged from the loco. So that the passengers didn't have to walk their luggage up the incline from the station.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 20.58.21.png
    Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 21.00.00.png

    Searching the web then there has been a 00 gauge layout built and on the exhibition circuit of the station but the viewing side is from the goods yard side so the incline approach from Holywell Junction is towards the rear of the layout. I think I'm going to swap it around so that the Station buildings and incline are at the front of the layout. So in the aerial photo's the plan is to make the viewing side from the left hand (eastern) side. Doing it this way means that I can make the front of the layout bow fronted and the exit incline can drop away and curve away to the rear of the layout, hopefully disappearing into the copse of trees.

    Anyway the wood for the baseboards have been cut and they are starting to be assembled, just trying to work out the cuts for the 1:27 incline. The Christmas break has been spent building some stock and track work for this project. I would have liked to progressed a bit further before showing my hand but for reasons which I may reveal in a few days my hand has been forced so I don't have that much to show at the moment. More to come!!
    Last edited: 5 January 2015
  2. Dan Randall

    Dan Randall Western Thunderer

    Adrian - This looks like it has the makings of a fantastic project and what cracking photos (well done Colour Rail :thumbs:), to accompany your introduction.

    I have a craving to start small layout myself and wish I had spotted this first. Mind you, I'd have to build a Western Region (or possibly Southern Region), version, but it has such great scope due to the topography - I love the footpath down to the platform! The was a similar footpath at Pans Lane Halt on the ex GWR line through Devizes - I live in Devizes and Pans Lane Halt was about a mile and a half from my house!

    I'm really looking forward to seeing this progressing. :)


  3. flexible_coupling

    flexible_coupling Western Thunderer

    What an absolutely charming location! I love the very rudimentary station facilities (any idea why the formal-looking station building was replaced by the 'tin shed'?) and compact nature of the prototype. Watching with interest...
  4. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    Nice! I shall follow progress with interest.

    I have to admit I'd personally extend the headshunt if I was developing this as a project. Then again, if it worked for the real thing, why change it?
  5. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    I remember that station from the Railway Modeller all those years ago. :) The design would be howled down from the layout design fraternity. :) The short headshunt might allow a bit of rope or chain shunting to add to the operational aspects of the layout.

  6. Ressaldar

    Ressaldar Western Thunderer

    Great find Adrian, certainly something to think about with regard to BLT especially of the non GWR variety.


  7. Gilbert

    Gilbert Member

    I recall seeing - and being captivated by - a model of Holywell Town at a Merseyside MRS Show at the Bluecoat Chambers in Liverpool in the 70's. From what I recall it stood out for its realism and operation - it was possibly EM but that's the limit of my memory..
  8. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    What's interesting is the passenger service can only feasibly be run with a pull-and-push service or railcar. Goods traffic would have to use a small tank engine, or encounter some creative shunting with anything larger.

    What a delightful project.
  9. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    I'm looking forward to this one, Adrian! What a cracking prototype.

    I love the first of the Colour Rail photos (splendid pictures all), and the keen young man with the sensible rainwear. Long before anoraks, of course!

  10. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    The photographs show just how much this layout can be "moulded" into a modern house and retain exhibition potential.

    The photo from the headshunt - titled "L&NWR etc." - shows classic late Victorian LNWR switch and crossing work whilst other photos show pre-1914 style plain line (or re-use of four hole chairs) . I shall be interested to see how you approach the construction of the track and particularly the turnout which includes the two catch points.

    The photo with the LNWR label implies that the photo is one of a series for Holywell, what of the others in that series?

    regards, Graham
  11. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Over the years, Adrian, I've become rather fond of the LNWR's 'light railways' in N. Wales, so shall follow your progress with keen interest.

    My interest was spawned after studying a map of Anglesey in the vicinity of Red Wharf Bay where I spent many wonderful family holidays in my childhood. It transpired that the broken black line marked 'disused railway' near to the village of Pentraeth, was part of the Red Wharf Bay and Benllech railway that ran from Holland Arms on the Anglesey Central railway, to just short of Benllech on the east coast of the island. It appears to have been a somewhat unremarkable venture, with its ramshackle station halts and minor engineering feats, but I think this is what drew it to me. http://www.anglesey-today.com/rails-to-red-wharf-bay.html

    I was determined to build it and so pre Internet, I fired off a letter to the local library in Llangefni who kindly furnished me with a series of photocopied pages from reference books, together with several negatives which I took to my local chemist's for developing. I even went so far as ordering a Gem kit of the 2-4-2 T - although it later transpired that the auto train used a 2-4-0 T - and motor from Hattons, which was later professionally constructed, painted and lined. Sadly, with the advent of the Internet - and Iain Rice's book on light railways - the world and his wife got to hear of it and at least one or two started to appear in the modelling press, which rather put me off.

    Still, I remain interested in reading articles about them and seeing them come to fruition.

    I expect we'll be seeing a Webb Coal Tank or two, Adrian?

  12. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    That's brilliant!

    Is the platform on the level? If not, you'll need working brakes on the carriages.... Simple enough

  13. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    Thanks for all the interest - it is encouraging.

    The formal station building is still there, it's just set back a bit and so is hidden but you can still see the distinctive chimneys/siphons(?) behind the tin shed.

    It is something I've been considering as well. I could build it slightly longer and shorten later if the proportions don't seem right. The buffer stop appears just to be a couple of sleepers bolted to the end wall so not too much of a problem to shorten if required.

    Yes I believe it was always a push-pull service with the requirement that the coach was leading on the turn up the branch but then I have seen a photo of a loco leading a 2 coach train further down the branch so a little more research is required.

    I think the series was one of North Wales stations rather than just Holywell Town - not seen too many other postcards.

    Potentially - I've still to settle on the era but some period wagons and stock is tempting.

    No I don't believe the platform is level - as far as I can tell the only level bit is the goods yard. Note the photo of the headhunt has a gradient board right at the toe of the points. Some sort of braking system will probably be needed - current cunning plan is actually to do something with the check rail or flange oilers. The main line has a check rail and the loop line what appears to be flange oilers or something similar. I was pondering whether these could be made to pivot or slide to provide enough resistance to provide the required braking. Something to experiment with.
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  14. Dikitriki

    Dikitriki Flying Squad

    Hi Adrian

    This is a really interesting, compact project, especially with the different gradients/levels.

    Isn't it possible to build this in from the start. Ie, build the headshunt into a portal, as you suggest may have been intended, but have a separate 'cover' to convert it to an end wall for prototype verisimilitude.

  15. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    How about extending the headshunt and incorporate a tunnel mouth? If you do, then you can either use the tunnel as a headshunt... or add another board for an off-scene improvisation of the un-built extension - which you use at any moment being dependent upon space available.

    Braking system? I recollect that the Gibbons Bros. used a wire lever that could be raised / lowered within the four foot to act as a restraint on an axle. Or with DCC in the coach to control a servo motor to wind-on/off the handbrake... you could always sub-contract that bit of the work to a technical guru from the West Mersea Mafia.
  16. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    If you're going to be using DCC you could use a cheap function only chip with a servo onboard the stock that needed brakes, probably cost about £30 in total...

    It was something I was going to try a few years back by never got round to. Always like the idea of having a rake of wagons heading downhill behind an engine, working brakes on the brake van at the top end, and then having all the couplings in tension to show the brake van doing its job.

    To just hold a carriage on an incline you'd probably get away with just a single working brake shoe to hold it in place. Just want to hope that the power doesn't go off thoug as you would have a possible runaway..

    Dan Randall likes this.
  17. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    Unless my memory fails me, has anyone else noticed that the fireman Bears a strange resemblance to Nick Dunhil ?! :)

  18. Dan Randall

    Dan Randall Western Thunderer

    Adrian - You may already have seen these, but there were a few pictures from around 2007 posted on RMweb....


    They might be of use when building the bridge, at least. :thumbs:

    Incidentally, the LNWR spear fencing that gets a mention, looks remarkably like GWR spear fencing to me.



    Edit - You have already seen this - I was scrolling down through the posts, when your name appeared.... :oops:
    Last edited: 5 January 2015
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  19. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Thank you Dan, enjoyed that topic.

    Adrian, this gets more interesting - LNWR interlaced turnouts, neat ;) .
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  20. John D

    John D Western Thunderer

    There's a very informative article on the branch in British Railway Journal no.40 , I got my copy of this on e-bay. Goods trains were propelled up the branch with the loco at the Holywell Junction end, and had brake vans at both ends of the train. I think I saw it somewhere that they used Coal tanks one the passenger trains and Coal engines on the goods.UBT