Cressington Light Railway

This 009 layout made its debut at the 2009 Hull Model Railway Show. It is based on a possible tourist attraction built on the old track bed of a standard gauge branch line that succumbed to the Beeching axe. Like all of these 'preserved' type of tourist attractions it presumes that the line was built, is maintained and manned by volunteers.

The thoughts behind the layout were that first of all I wanted a ‘modern’ layout; many narrow gauge layouts are based during the heyday of the narrow gauge era during the 1920s and 1930s and despite the comments of some of my fellow club members I was not around during that period! The layout therefore had to be based during a summer in the early part of 21st century. It also needed to be freelance in perception so that I could model and run the type of stock that I had and liked. Hence the notion that it is a tourist line built by volunteers on the track bed of an old standard gauge BR branch line somewhere in England. This concept gave me plenty of modellers license. 

There needed to be other tourist/leisure type attractions, so as well as a typical British country pub, The layout is based near to a river navigation with boats etc. As many Show visitors had shown an interest in the horse and rider on a previous layout of mine, 'Briding Noora', I thought that a riding stable/school could also be incorporated onto the layout.  Two other major parameters were also set: It had to be able to be operated by one person and must fit into my 11ft by 8ft modelling workshop. I also wanted a continuous run facility through the fiddle yard so that I could just watch trains go by if I so wished.  Also useful when testing and does allow the operator to run the same train through if requested by a Show visitor.

Cressington Light Railway was the result, being just over 10ft long by 2ft 6ins wide (plus space for the operator behind the layout). It represents a single line passenger carrying railway with passing loops at the stations along the line; all 'off stage' as it were. The part modelled is of one of the intermediate stations, near the river, which also has a small workshop come loco shed and the usual sidings for the volunteers to park things like odd wagons and coaches until they get ‘around to’ repairing or restoring them. One end of the station is against the stone bridge that carries the road through the village over the railway and the river.  This bridge provides a very convenient scenic break into the fiddle yard. 

Moving the other way from the station takes the trains past the entrance to the sidings and workshop and the end of the loop onto the single track that generally follows the line of the river, passing the usual facilities put in for tourists in the form of a public convenience, a refreshment kiosk, Stella's and picnic area. It then reaches a level crossing which is the entrance to the riding school.  There are no gates on the crossing but one of the volunteers is always on hand when the trains are running.  The line continues past the riding school but is now diverting away from the course of the river, and passes under the new road bridge that forms the bypass for the village and the scenic break.  The track then runs around the back of the layout into the 3 road fiddle yard; which can in theory hold 8 trains, note the ‘in theory’. In practice only 6 trains are normally in use which does allow one through track to remain available in the fiddle yard to allow the continuous running. The concept can be seen by reference to the track plan:

track plan

Track plan courtesy of the Railway Modeller, Peco Publications


The rolling stock is an eclectic mix of locos, mainly by Paul Windle although a few kit-built ones are sometimes used, with coaches mainly from Parkside Dundas kits plus the odd modified continental ready to run, many of which were obtained second hand from the 009 Society. As would become such a volunteer run railway the stock used is what happens to be available at the time and is actually useable on the day. 

The system of control is the now very ancient method using DC and cab control. The scenic part of the layout is arranged into 3 major sections, one on each board, with the section breaks at the board joints. 2 other sections look after the sidings and workshop with each of the roads in the fiddle yard having a section break across the centre board.  The actual controller used is usually a Gaugemaster hand held, and I always have at least one spare.  I sometimes use the EM Gauge Society ones that were normally used on Gox Hill Quarries. Further train control is via the colour light signals which, apart from the one on the centre board, are wired into small section gaps so that trains cannot pass when they are set to danger (red).  A diode is fitted on the single line one by the level crossing as trains have to pass in both directions at this point of the track.   This does allow three trains to be on the scenic section at any one time, and it is actually possible to have two trains moving at the same time.


The layout on display at a model railway show in Cleethorpes in 2011


Some further pictures of the railway as it appears at Shows:

A Bagnall 'Jessie' type stands with its train at the station
A small motor launch passes the station area
A Sharp Stewart Tram loco arriving at the station
Riders going for a hack from the stables
clr 4
A Sharp Stewart Tram loco hauls its train over the level crossing
A view from the village bridge

Details of the layout appeared in the March 2011 edition of the Railway Modeller. The photographs are reproduced here courtesy of the Railway Modeller.

This layout has appeared at the following Model Railway Shows:

2009: Hull Model Railway Show.

2010: Caistor Model Railway Show.

2011: Preston Model Railway Show.

2011: Cleethorpes Model Railway Show.

2012: Narrow Gauge North.

2012: Warley 20th Show at the NEC

2013: Small & Delightful Railway Group, Shepton Mallet.

2016: Lincoln Model Railway Exhibition.

2016: Hull MRS Summer Show.


This layout is booked to appear at:

14th July 2018: East Midlands 009 members day


This layout is available for exhibitions.

More about 4mm/ft narrow gauge modelling and details of the 009 Society can be found here

page updated 16/11/2017