WIVELISCOMBE CONSTRUCTION

During the 1980's, Derek Garrett and a neighbour Tony Hiscock were both going through the routine of setting up train layouts for sons. This soon developed into a greater interest as they started to visit various model railway exhibitions, to get ideas and to purchase rolling stock, and scenery.

The more layouts they saw, the more critical they became, until 1989, they decided that they could build an exhibition standard layout equally as good at those seen at shows around the country.

Wiveliscombe was chosen because it was a simple track layout, although somewhat unusual the station was on a large curve. The Great Western track plans were available, and some of the buildings were still standing. This enabled them to visit the site of the former station, and take actual measurements of buildings.

Tony's wife (Janet) was bought up in Wivi, and her father George Parsons (The local milkman at the time), would know who they should talk to for anecdotes about the station.

It took 2 years to collate all the information they needed to start the layout, during this period, with the permission from owners of buildings they were able to measure the remaining buildings, and photograph everything in the vicinity. This included taking photo's of the town behind the station for reference when painting the background.

 

Once the information was gathered a scaled plan was drawn up of the station layout, this stretched virtually the whole length of our lounge/ dining room and was held down with baked bean cans from the kitchen cupboards.

From this scaled plan baseboards were constructed on which the track was laid.

Unlike most layouts, which are built up from a flat sheet of plywood, it was decided to make this one a little different by making it follow the contours around the area. This meant we would have land both above and below the track level, as is the nature of the landscape in the area. The total construction of the layout took over 2000 man hours, mostly during evenings and weekends. Indoors and out, in garages and even the local playgroup portacabin once it outgrew the garage!!

Being relative beginners in the subject of Railway Modeling, and both on a very tight budget, they took a lot of notice and advice on how other layouts were constructed, and they soon found out there were many ways of producing a quility finish but with relativly cheap methods. Most items on the Wivi layout were made from sheer trial and error. A few examples of which are, white pebbles around plants on the station are grains of rice. Cabbages in the allotments are painted cloves, and the grass is made from teddy bear fabric stuck face down onto the board and cut off with a scalpel. Then it's been dyed and cut to look like long wavy grass. The fence posts are bits of 'OO' gauge track with holes drilled through them, allowing fishing line to be threaded between. Most of the weathering seen on the platforms is as a result of split paint of brushes which were wiped clean, this gradual build up of paint and dust over the construction period gave the platforms the desired effect.

 

Some of the constrcution methods mentioned above have bought many questions at exhibitions from the public and other experienced modelers alike.

We operate the layout on a sequenced set of train movements, each train being as near a copy as we could reproduce of an actual service, all of which would have occurred during the 1950's and 1966. These have been authenticated by research and conversations with former railwaymen who worked the line.

Our most pleasing moment was while displaying the layout at the Barnstaple Exhibition, a former locomotive fireman on the line sat for several hours at eye level watching the train movements. At the end of the day he congratulated them on their good work, and with a tear even in his eye he thanked them for bringing back so many fond memories of when he used to work the line!