I saw 009 as a great way to build a realistic and interesting model railway in my bedroom, having already discovered that an unconverted loft is a hot/cold/dusty/uncomfortable place to be (by this time I was taller than the rafters!), so I came up with a plan for a layout to fit the desk under my "Captain Bunk" bed, just 3'6" by 2'6". I fitted a lot in; an oval of track with a station, goods sidings, and a branch that climbed from the station to a quarry at the back. I also got a lot wrong - the curves were too tight, gradients too steep, tracklaying very dodgy, the rear of the loop was inaccessable in a tunnel, I even made the baseboard out of hardboard which meant it weighed a ton and was not that strong! However I learned a lot, I was quite proud of the scenary, I even "exhibited" it at a local church open day! I also managed to sell it, so not bad for a first attempt.
A poor quality scanned picture of my second layout, Pen-Y-Bryn. For some reason the church roof never got painted, and the station never got a roof at all!
This was followed by another 009 layout with a similar (Welsh) theme, but incorporating a lot of lessons learned from the first. It was 6' long by 2' wide in two 3' long boards built from ply and softwood with a chipboard top, and had their own slot in legs. There was a station at the front, with a line passing over a stream into a tunnel returning to the rear sidings in an oval layout. I still made mistakes, cramming too much track into the station area, and a piece of curved track running into a point took a lot of work to get it reasonable! But again I was happy with the scenics (although never completely finished), the baseboards and electrics (my first venture with point motors) worked well, and I was getting better at making loco's and stock run properly too. This layout even got a name, "Pen-Y-Bryn".
An overview of Pen-Y-Bryn with the later extension, and improved storage sidings with the ingenious (I thought) control panel over the top
My next layout was a return to 00 gauge, and probably my first true "micro" layout, although that term wasn't used then! It was just 3' 6" by 1' scenic area with a 2' long cassette fiddle-yard (remarkably similar to Awngate come to think of it!) and represented a diesel depot, or MPD. It was "modern image" at the time, which meant the colourful liveries of sectorisation, and as well as a low-relief shed and a refuelling depot it featured an fuel store for shunting tank wagons, and a civil engineers siding. The plan actually featured as a Plan Of The Month in Railway Modeller magazine.
Fun though that layout was, the charm of narrow gauge continued to appeal. So I built an extension to Pen-Y-Bryn featuring a quarry, as well as an extended run around a lake. Sadly although the track was laid, and the buildings made, I never completed the extension before I left home. I had come up with a good means of controlling a bank of hidden sidings with two controllers, featuring route-selection from rotary switches and a diode-matrix, which I was rather proud of. I was also proud of the buildings from the extension too, which rather showed how my skills had improved since I built the original part of the layout, fortunately they later found homes on Southon Yard and Pen-Y-Bryn Quarry (which also inherited the name!).
The extension to Pen-Y-Bryn, recognise those unfinished buildings?
As a child my family used to take long holidays in our caravan, and since even then I used to enjoy designing layouts, I doodled plans for a layout that would fit into a locker! However when I left home for university I figured I needed a layout to take, so out came the plan. The track layout was inspired by a layout called "Minibury Abbas" which I saw at a show, it used just 3 points and for a train to reverse a second loco was required to shunt it. Unlikely perhaps, but more interesting to operate!
A close-up view of Boxton
There followed another abortive project to build a light-railway terminus in 00 with a narrow-gauge (009) feeder. The concept was set high in a Welsh valley, the narrow gauge was to serve a dam construction project. However although at 7' long it was hardly a large layout, after several flat/house moves and about 7 years progress had stalled, and the arrival of children finally evicted it from the house altogether. By that time I had returned to the micro-layout theme with Southon Yard and Pen-Y-Bryn Quarry.