Elmgate and Thatcham Light Railway by Tim Sanderson

The layout represents part of the fictitious “Elmgate and Thatcham Railway” set somewhere in the Sussex. The period is broadly 1960’s. Goods traffic is mostly agricultural, but with the occasional train from the Elmgate processing works to Thatcham for transshipment, and is sometimes diesel hauled. This traffic is dwindling, and a preservation group has taken over the line, running a passenger service, with restored steam locomotives and coaches.

The first part of the line to be modelled was ELMGATE Station. This was exhibited for several years, but it, and I, have now retired from exhibitions. The following description, therefore, commences with the original layout.

The right hand board is Elmgate station, goods facilities, and the loco shed. The station has an island platform, and passenger trains normally use the front line. The goods sidings serve both coal staithes and the goods shed. A line appears through a low tunnel (the “stinking hole”) under the road, from the processing works. Works locomotives shunt wagons from the works, for collection by main line locos to take to the other end of the line.

After passing beneath the standard gauge stone viaduct, we reach the carriage shed. The shed is fitted between the viaduct and a road overbridge. This shed houses the stock for the first train from Elmgate, plus other stock not in use. Passenger trains are prepared here, and hauled to the station for service, returning to shed in the evening. The main line passes in front of this shed. To the right of the shed, is the repair/paint shop building. Occasionally, a vehicle may be shunted in or out of here, involving the clearing of the rear carriage road. Engineering wagons may often be seen in the siding between the main line and shed or in the shed itself; look out for the Engineer’s trolley making a visit!

The model is to 4 mm:1 foot (1:76) scale, on 9 mm gauge track. This represents 2 ft 3 in gauge. Track is PECO 009 narrow gauge, with some hand made by soldering rail to copper clad sleepers. The track is laid on cork underlay, and ballasted with “Brush it On” fine ballast. Points are manually operated by rods (used November 5th sparklers mostly!) the rods are actuated by miniature slide switches, which also switch the polarity. The standard gauge is represented by EM (18.2 mm) gauge track, with modified commercial stock and/or kits. This is naturally static.

Scenery has a plaster base, over polystyrene blocks, or cardboard framework, and uses scatter materials, glued with dilute PVA glue. Buildings have been converted from plastic kits, including the Ratio carriage shed, and Airfix RAF control tower, with additions, and other details mostly from Wills plastic materials. The standard gauge viaduct is from a Langley Miniature Models vacuum forming, and the road bridge arch from an N scale tunnel mouth, with parapet wall from Wills random stone sheet. The Interior arches of the bridges are Plasticard ™ sheet. Shops come from the Metcalf card range.

Since retirement, the layout was at first mothballed, and a permanent layout commenced in my hobbies room. Since early 2020, ELMGATE has been added into the new layout. It remains “transportable” so the possibility of showing remains.

Having passed through the road bridge, the line enters a new scene and runs up a gradient, to connect into the permanent layout. These boards are removable, to enable access to my modelling table. This area is still (early 2021) being developed, but will be mainly countryside, with the track performing an “S” bend as it climbs – think Welshpool and Llanfair Railway.

The line now passes into a small fiddle yard, attached to ARTMOUTH COVE station. This was originally a self-contained layout, purchased second hand, and intended for a different (fictitious) prototype. However the ETR has grown around this! ARTMOUTH has a short loop, with sidings serving basic goods facility, and a steep drop to the fish loading quay, adjacent to the harbour.

Passing through a view blocker tunnel, the line runs to the left up a moderate gradient, to TULLEYS HILL station, part of the ETR proper. This is a chief passing place on the Railway, and has echoes of Woody Bay, from the Lynton and Barnstaple. The line then drops down to cross a river by girder bridge, and finally enters the main fiddle yard, re-appropriated from ELMGATE.

The narrow gauge stock has been assembled from kits, or scratchbuilt. In particular, the standard coaches are adapted from kits for the Ashover Railway coaches (see Railway Modeller August 2002). Some goods stock has been converted from old TT (3 mm scale) vehicles (Railway Modeller July 2001). Three ‘Main Line’ locomotives use 3mm scale LMS tank bodies on N gauge chassis’ (Railway Modeller, January 2000). Both steam and internal combustion locos are used; some are larger and operate the main line trains, others are small shunters.

Control is by analogue (d.c.) system. Each station has its own controller. Control of the whole station area is possible from this controller. Control (of the main line and relevant areas) may also be handed over to the adjacent station, enabling trains to be run between stations by either. TULLEYS HILL, however, controls into the Fiddle Yard. Normally the “receiving” station takes control. Since the layout is usually operated alone, I can also transfer control of the whole layout to the ARTMOUTH controller. All controllers are on leads that enable the operator to move about their area. They have been constructed by myself, and are of the simple voltage control, feedback type.

The owner is a member of the 009 Society. Some further details are available from my web site: www.elmgate-models.co.uk. However, most of my updates are on the Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling Online forum https://ngrm-online.com (but only accessible to members of that forum).

Elmgate is not available for exhibitions.

Elmgate & Thatcham Light Railway by Tim Sanderson
Elmgate & Thatcham Light Railway by Tim Sanderson