Whilst on holiday recently my wife and I met up with my cousin and his family to go for a visit to the South Devon Railway. He has 4 young children, and they had never been on a train before, let alone a steam train. Needless to say they were quite excited (despite the rain!).
The South Devon Railway is a very enjoyable ride, for a standard gauge line, along an old Western Region branchline from Buckfastleigh to Totnes where it connects (almost) to the mainline from Paddington to Penzance. The route of the line follows the River Dart for almost the entirety of the journey, so there’s plenty of scenery to be seen whilst poking your head out of the window.
Why this talk of standard gauge lines several hundred miles remote from the Isle of Skye you ask? Well, having had our ride on the SDR, Harry, my cousin’s youngest, began asking for a trainset. My cousin, knowing of my hobby, began to ask my advice on what to build for him, and now I’ve got the job of designing and building a layout for Harry.
It’s been quite good fun and has forced me to remember my 8’x4′ trainset that I had when I was Harry’s age, and more specifically what components of that layout that I enjoyed most. I came up with the following formula:
Layout=something always moving+(continuous run+goods yard+loco shed)+(tunnel+station+over bridge)
Well, I’ve not quite followed mathematical laws to plan a layout, but the above components all feature on it as they were all on my list of what I found fun or exciting components of my old layout.
I think the above list goes a long way towards what a successful exhibition layout needs too, i.e. something always going on to keep exhibition visitors interested in your layout, operational fun to keep exhibitors occupied and interesting, and scenic interest which sometimes blocks your view, forcing you to look at non-railway components of the layout whilst the train disappears from view. Almost all of the above don’t apply to Dunbracken, but they do to Isle Ornsay, or should do when it’s completed.
I’m looking forward to building Harry’s layout, it’ll be a quick project that will get done over a few days in September just before his birthday, so shouldn’t divert progress on Isle Ornsay for too long – every time I look at Colin Lea’s blog I see the ticker counting down to Sparsholt 2012 where Isle Ornsay will be making it’s exhibition debut… no pressure!