Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Mardy Colliery, My groundbreaking Gauge 1 layout

Recommended Posts



For many modellers the gauge 1 layout that was a turning point in scenic 10mm modelling was my 'Mardy Colliery' built in the mid 1980s. I had become more and more disillusioned with 0 scale and the rapid commercialisation of the scale and wanted to do something more obscure.


Gauge 1 in those days was principally live steam with a mixture of clockwork and various electrics systems thrown in. The Gauge 1 Model Railway Association had done an incredible job of promoting the scale and rescuing it from obscurity.


I had made a start on modelling the London South Western Railway and my infamous Beattie 2-4-0 (the longest project I ever did) was progressing nicely but the plan for the layout, based on the Swanage branch, was already looking impractical so a rethink was on the cards. As the then chairman of the Sheffield 0 gauge group the other members had allowed me to lay a third outer rail on the test track spaced at 45mm so I could test and run in the locos and rolling stock


What was needed was a highly detailed scenic layout at 10mm to the foot but with small prototypes and lots of operational possibilities so the obvious route to go was industrial modelling. The NCB (National Coal Board) was an obvious choice with its varied fleet of Industrial locos shunting main line wagons. tight curves, steep gradients and a generally run down appearance.




One of the principal requirements was a steep, curved approach to the colliery from the hidden sidings and the requirement to run round to get the wagons into the coal screens. In this way there was no simple run in and run out method of operation, you had to do some serious shunting.





The incline was just guesswork with some test trains proving it would work although there were issues with buffer locking of which more, later.


Under construction in one of the photographic studios at work



The track up the incline and along the front was Tenmille flexitrack and points and at the rear Marklin points and set track. This threw up a problem at the first show as the locos sparked badly when they were running on the Marklin track.  This was traced to the cast iron driving wheels mismatching electrically with the stainless steel rail.


First show with very bare scenery!




More tomorrow




  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post

Gauge 1 is a long way from Z Gauge.  Looking forward to seeing more.

Share this post

Link to post

As the next show was looming a rapid relaying of all the Marklin track sorted the problem. The Marklin points, which were also susceptible to ballast getting into the tie bars and jamming them, were replaced with hand laid ones using copperclad sleepers. The points at the front of the layout were powered by Fulgurex switch machines and the rear one by wire in tube working off DPDT heavy duty switches.




Control was DC in those days with 00/H0 ECM Compspeed controllers just about coping though they did get a bit hot pushing the Beuhler powered locos up the hill.


Now the layout was running reliably each baseboard in turn was taken to Jack Burnards for him to work his scenic magic and the control panel refined. All of the buildings were scratchbuilt in Foamboard  and figures and road vehicles came from a variety of sources. Meanwhile the show invites were coming in and a core team of operators were put together.




We chose the team name the Mardy Model railway club. Not because the layout was based on Maerdy colliery in South Wales but because of the Yorkshire meaning of  the word Mardy i.e miserable, complaining and grumpy! A colloquial phrase might be ' ignore im, ees a reet mardy bum' pronounce it how its spelt and you've learnt to speak Yorkshire!




More soon


Share this post

Link to post

After a few shows Jack suggested we extended the layout by one baseboard so he could model a pub and brewery and I also wanted to extend the fiddle yard so that it came round behind the operators with two sidings available. Each board was 4 foot long giving a total length of 24 foot and a depth of 6 foot at the fiddle yard end.




The brewery was named SBB after Smith, Bramley and Burnard and their signature brew was 'Rigor mortis' ale. A good stiff drink.


The pub was fitted with  highly detailed interior



Transport was done in a high roof Transit van fitted with two Dexion racks. Nowadays each board would have its own flightcase on wheels like my Z gauge layouts, one of the lessons learnt lumping Mardy around the U.K!



One of the racks stood in the workshop



Share this post

Link to post

I mentioned the tight curves. Buffer locking was a problem especially when propelling so thin bars were put across the wagon buffer faces. All of the stock had standard three link couplings.



The standard operation was for a short train of empties to be hauled up the incline into Mardy colliery halt. The loco would uncouple, run round the train, drag the train back onto the headshunt and then propel the mineral wagons under the coal screens. Any other wagons were split off and propelled into the brewery yard. The coal wagons were manually filled with real coal whilst the loco would either shunt the brewery or go into the locoshed. however, sometimes the weight of the train proved too much for the loco on the incline and it would stall so we then did a manoeuvre that amazed the show visitors. A banking loco would be sent out from the fiddle yard, gently buffer up to the brake van and then both locos would attack the bank. At the top the train engine would carry on whilst the banker would drop off and run back down into the yard ready for its next turn. It was a really smooth operation and something many people had never seen before in model form. As operators we really loved doing it!




The loaded wagons need no assistance going down the hill although you had to be careful as there was a lot of weight behind the engine.



I'll cover the rolling stock in a separate thread. There was a lot of it, far too much really, but once we got the wagon building bug you don't know where to stop sometimes. The 'Mardy Dido' was a train exclusively for the miners and was an ancient Highland railway four wheeler later supplemented by some ex Great Western four and six wheelers. And the locos were covered in my thread on scratchbuilt gauge 1 locos.



Share this post

Link to post

Now the entrance to the fiddle yard was a bit bare and people could see straight into it so a park layout using N and Z gauge to represent 7 1/4" and 5" live steam was built that sat over the bottom of the incline. This just ran round and round but meant there was always something moving on the layout. Called Mardy Model Engineers this would eventually have a career all of its own.




'Maskelyne' a Stephenson and Hawthorn 0-4-0ST under the coal screens




Hunslet power. A 550050 0-6-0ST and the later Austerity 0-6-0ST in British railways service wait their next turn



68011 attacks the bank



Share this post

Link to post

'Pocohontas' a Hunslet 15" 0-6-0ST drifts towards the coaling stage.




Modernisation beckons as an ex-works Class 08 diesel shunter makes its first appearance




A mainline interloper LNER Gresley A4 4-6-2 'Sir Nigel Gresley in the brewery yard for an open day. (in actuality a rare Aster electric A4)




This had absolutely no chance of getting round the bend and down the incline!


From the 1960s onwards British Rail determined to eliminate unfitted freights from the mainline. Power stations were to be served by block trains of air braked coal hopper wagons in a closed circuit. taking trains from the collieries to automatic unloading facilities at the power plant and returning empty with no shunting involved. one class of locos built for this traffic were the Class 58 Co-Cos and this is mt scratchbuilt one on a gauging train



Share this post

Link to post

So we did a lot of shows but problems were starting to manifest themselves. transporting it was an issue as the layout, and the racks, had to be carried down two flights of stairs and loaded into the van, carried into the show and set up. Worse was Sunday nights when having got out of the show and back to the clubrooms after a long drive we had to lug it all  back up those same flights of stairs and it was getting to be too much really. The other issue was more threatening. When the Marklin track was replaced the ballast had been soaked in warm soapy water to get it off but four years later the chipboard tops began to sag, slowly at first but as time went by it was getting worse. People complimented us on the realistic bumpy track! Attempts were made to try and shore it up to no avail and the layouts show days were numbered really. So after 28 shows the length and breadth of the U.K it was sold and as Gottersee and the gauge 3 layout and the Nickel Plate layout were all in the pipeline I sold all the locos and rolling stock as well.




Ex North British railway J36 0-6-0 on the shed has its smokebox emptied




Going through a load of old camcorder tapes I was surprised to find some footage shot by one of the operators which we had forgot existed. Sadly he didn't use a tripod so it is a bit wobbly but worthwhile. The layout was filmed a lot at shows and I wish I could get more to really put a decent video together. So if anybody out there has some please get in touch



I still get asked by show organisers if there is a chance for it to come out of retirement for an anniversary tour but to be honest I have know idea where it is now. A couple of members have passed away and the rest of us are probably a bit past it when it comes to that sort of intense layout exhibiting now. I never wrote it up for the magazines at the time sadly, nowadays it would be all over the internet!




Share this post

Link to post

Just realised I've never posted the loco thread so I'll tack it on the end of this shortly and also give you a brief look at the rolling stock


As a taster here is the 08 under construction







Share this post

Link to post

The first loco I built was the Little Stephenson and Hawthorn 0-4-0ST 'Maskelyne'. Constructed in Nickel Silver with a chassis made from GFS Steel. A Beuhler motor powered the rear axle and the loco sat on cast iron driving wheels turned from Locosteam castings. Insulation was done by the split spoke method.




A little judicious weathering toned down the paint nicely.


Next up was 'Pocohontas' with exactly the same construction methods and motor. Once again weathered




'Pochin' was an ex North British railway Y10 0-4-0. four coupled tender engines were rare in the U.K. Again the construction method was the same so by now all three locos were pretty similar in running quality




Now the next loco was a weird one!


'Dandie Dinmont' worked on :Lord Carlisle's 'Brampton railway' in the far north of England. My model shows it in the state it was after a major rebuild complete with its two sets of buffers. The top two are are at the standard position but the two lower ones were for shunting ancient 'chaldron' hoppers. Now I went a bit mad with the mechanism on this one with a Maxon Coreless motor and flywheel driving through a double reduction gearbox. It ran like a pig! We think the ECM feedback controller and a coreless motor with a flywheel fought each other and eventually it has a Beuhler fitted like the rest of the fleet built so far.



Share this post

Link to post

Now the Hunslet Austerity was built in massive numbers after it was chosen by the war department as the standard shunting engine to be supplied during the second world war. Other Industrial loco builders were allowed to use the drawings and hundreds were manufactured right up to the late 1950s. After the war the LNER, who had a desperate motive power shortage, took some into stock and these eventually came into british railways hands at nationalisation in 1948.


68011 represents one of these locos. Construction was standard but the larger driving wheels gave it a bit more top speed than the others




The other one on the layout was the precursor loco, the Hunslet 550050 class. This differed from the actual austerities with its deeper bufferbeams and a slope back bunker




By now Jack was working on his own minimum space gauge 1 layout and needed a speciality Austerity. The 'Lambton Cab'version cut down to get through some tight tunnels. Construction this time was in brass rather then nickel Silver.




There is even another! Alongside Jacks I built a fourth one, this time standard and after years and years sat in bits in a box in the loft I got it out over Christmas and spent a day cleaning it up with a view to finishing it




In the background you can see some etched brass parts for the classic LMS Coke hopper of which more later. The plastic bits are the patterns for cutting out the side rods on a pantograph engraver





Share this post

Link to post

Now before the railways were nationalised in 1948 most colliery yards would have been full of the coal mines own private owner wagons finished in the owners livery. Some coalmines owned thousands.


Here is a preserved one formerly owned by Babbington Colliery in Nottingham



When the National Coalboard was founded all of these wagons were eventually rebranded into a much simpler colour scheme


This is one of the wagons I finished in Mardy Main livery. Construction of the body was scribed plywood with embossed plasticard for the strapping and corner plates. The wheels, axleboxes buffers etc came from a firm called Tenmille




The NCB adopted an internal use colour scheme of plain black with white stripes




an unpainted one shows the construction method. This was the prototype one with a working end door that was going to be used on the working wagon tippler I was working on then





Share this post

Link to post

Now when the Coal board and British railways took stock of this huge varied fleet they soon realised it was a complete mish-mash of different sizes and tonnage ratings so a new standardised all welded steel 16 ton design was introduced to replace the lot. 300,000 were built over a period of years. Most were unfitted, with no automatic brake of any kind, and these were painted grey. The ones that were fitted with vacuum  brakes were painted red oxide




Plywood was going to be no good for these so I resorted to clear plastic sheet sold by a local D.I.Y chain as secondary double glazing. Very similar to perspex but a lot cheaper.Framing and details were Plastruct ABS sections




I soon discovered that they need a good couple of coats of black paint to stop the sunlight showing through them!




Weathered of course as they led a hard life in service




more soon

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

One of the brake vans used on the layout




An ex LMS 20t brake van. Its grey paint scheme indicates it has no air of vac brakes fitted




An ancient box van constructed by the Midland railway before 1923 still in service in the 1950s. Construction is all wood with injected moulded plastic strapping and hinges and was offered as a body kit by Tony Riley




A more modern plywood sided van still follows the basic design of this type of vehicle







  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

Also from a kit were a pair of Cattle vans from kits manufactured by Tenmille


The BR design was a straight copy of the great Western railway design




I'd started to do some more modern longer wheelbase wagons,

Another example of an acrylic van under construction is this 'Insulfish' fish van introduced as BR moved towards longer wheelbase vehicles




As fish traffic died out these were converted into parcel vans although you do wonder if they ever got rid of the fish smell before loading it up with people's Christmas presents!



  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

Only short thread this as I never turned out gauge 1 coaches in the quantities I did with freight stock.


Gottersee, my German layout, ran with RTR Marklin four and six wheelers and though I had plans to scratchbuild some it never transpired


On Mardy the space limitations meant main line coaches were out of the question but the 'Mardy Dido' was an exception. Some colliery systems in the U.K ran works train to bring the miners in. These were typically formed of ancient main line coaches from before the turn of the century and in many cases were four or six wheelers


Mardy Colliery acquired an ancient Highland Railway 'dogbox' as their first passenger vehicle which was usually hauled by the Neilson 0-4-0T 'Dandie Dinmont'. This was scratchbuilt in Polystyrene. You get an idea of just how basic the real thing was



Relative luxury arrived with the purchase of a longer wheelbase Great Western coach, This was an etched set of sides, memory fails me on who produced them but they weren't very good!



Now the Premier Railways coach kits were very interesting. Mike May wanted to do some kits that could be used to make generic Victorian bogie coaches. His team came up with the idea of injection moulded window and door details and profile milled wooden sections for the rest. In effect you could create any configuration of pre-grouping coach  you wanted. I decided to do a rake of Barry railway six wheelers.


The basic construction



In primer. Now I had a choice of how I was going to get these around corners and opted for a 'half bogie' design rather than a Cleminson design. In this, one outer axle is fixed and the other two were on a hidden four wheel truck pivoted in the centre. These rode very well.



Share this post

Link to post

Waiting to be lined out. The wood grain could have been a bit less prominent.




Now some coaches that I did not build were some LMS (London Midland and Scottish) period III coaches.


A mate of mine , Terry Rose, was a master of constructing flush sided coaches from punched and formed Aluminium. His paint jobs were superb


An LMS 'Stove R' six wheel parcel van



A superb LMS six wheel diner



He also did me a rake of 57ft suburban stock which bizarrely I never got round to photographing


At a swapmeet on day I picked up a load of punched aluminium Midland railway Clerestory coach sides. This was as far as I got panelling was being added in styrene strip






Share this post

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...