Edwardian Interlude Redux

Earlier this year, I wrote about my interest in the Great Western Railway in the Edwardian era and the possibilities of modelling it in 7mm in my basement. It’s time to have another look at this because, well… there have been developments.

To start, my fleet of GWR steam locomotives has grown considerably over the past year.

Now we are three: a 517 Class on the left, a Dean Goods in the middle, and a Dean Single on the right. All exquisite models by Lee Marsh.

In October 2020, I stumbled across a Lee Marsh Dean Single on a UK brass dealer’s site. The same site had a Lee Marsh Dean Goods on offer in November of this year. Both are in the green, black, and red scheme that I find most attractive, with copious amounts of lining and plenty of bright brass work.

The Dean Single.
The Dean Goods.

Obviously, I could not resist. These models are not the perfect cup of tea for everyone in North America – far from it. But they speak so strongly to me.

When I acquired the Dean Single, I decided to explore my options for modelling the GWR. To that end, I bought a half-dozen kits for 19th Century goods wagons (er… freight cars) from Walsall Model Industries. These are primarily photo-etched brass with some white metal castings, and require wheel sets and lettering to complete. I bought suitable wheels from Slaters.

Since I was ordering from them anyway, I also picked up Slaters buffers and coupling hooks: my experience with S scale on Port Rowan taught me that having consistent mechanical components like couplers and wheels is a real benefit, and I’d had excellent success with Slaters products when I built four of the company’s four-wheel passenger cars.

The Walsall kits sat for about a year – I got busy doing other things – but with the imminent arrival of the Dean Goods I decided it was time to determine whether I a) can build the kits and b) enjoy doing so.

While I do not yet have pictures to share, I have built a single-plank and four-plank open and I’m pleased that I can answer “yes” to both questions. They’re painted and ready for lettering. Meantime, I’m taking the first steps into a kit for an Iron Mink – a 19th century GWR metal-sided goods van that’s the equivalent of North America’s single-sheathed boxcar. There are a gazillion half-etched rivets to form and I’m actually looking forward to the process.

When not at the workbench, I’m considering what sort of layout these should run on. My space is large, but even so the broad radius curves required to prevent British 7mm equipment from locking buffers means that UK classic – the Branch Line Terminal to staging – is the most appropriate choice. (The Dean Single likely would never have turned up on such a line. I’m good with that. I’ll run it when nobody’s looking.)

In chatting with friends about this, it occurred to us that I might have to build multiple shelf-style layouts in my space in order to scratch my various modelling itches. In addition to the GWR in 7mm, there’s the Canadian National Railways / Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway in S scale. And while I haven’t written about it on this blog, I also own a significant collection of Southern Pacific and Sacramento Northern equipment in Proto:48 and it would be nice to see those models in action.

Perhaps, by designing multiple smaller, more achievable layouts, I can actually get started on one without it feeling like a huge solo undertaking. Plus, if I build all of them and find I spend most of my time on one to the neglect of the others – well, that tells me something too about what I should be modelling…

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

8 thoughts on “Edwardian Interlude Redux

  1. I love the multiple small layout idea, if I had a bigger space like you do that would totally be how I would look to scratch my variety of modeling itches instead of my one layout and collection of ikea shelf sized dioramas. I look forward to continuing to see how you move forward with new layouts in the new space!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of exciting things here. First, your great modeling of compelling, but off-the-beaten-path modeling subjects. ‘Downton Abbey’-era steam? Mid-century safety striped electrics? This could be some fun and ground-breaking modeling!
    But second and equally compelling will be how you adapt and accommodate concurrent disparate model railway projects. Maybe some shared elements, like common or complimentary layout controls, fascias, and lighting? Different corners of your layout room(s)? Modular compatibility? A lot model railroad ink has been spilled over the years about sprawling basement empire/lifetime layout construction, and I look forward to seeing and reading about new, more focused ways to do model railroading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Steve:
      “I look forward to seeing and reading about new, more focused ways to do model railroading.”
      That’s a tall order! I’ll do my best. At this point it’s all vapourware – we’ll see what I actually do when I start to build something.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting idea. Several years ago a friend of mine had four layouts of various sizes at his home. Partly because he had varied interests and partly because he had a variety of unconnected spaces. IIRC it was OO in the garage, HO narrow gauge on a shelf in the family room above the furniture, LGB in the backyard, and for good measure a portable N scale to take to train shows.

    I think a disconnected double or even triple deck could work well. The highest deck could simply be a mainline loop for some of that O-Scale SP equipment with a nod under to get into the centre operating space.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cal:
      Thanks for the comments. My space is large but narrow – continuous running for Proto:48 or GWR 7mm is out of the picture. If I build multiple layouts they’ll all be variations on shelf switchers. And I plan to use the space under the layout(s) for storage so I’m hoping to avoid multiple decks.
      In any case, I need to walk before I run – pick one subject and start it.
      I’m thinking about that while I work on the GWR 7mm kits that have been sitting on the “to-do” pile for the past year. They’re the first real modelling I’ve done since moving into this new space – at least, the first real modelling that it actually looks like I’m going to finish – so that feels really positive and I’m going to keep building on those successes. Two kits are waiting for lettering and I’m starting a third – that is terrific progress for me, these days. My goal is to keep working on this until I have all six kits finished, then decide what to do next.


  4. If nothing else, you could build a narrow “display module” and showcase all of the GWR stuff you have been building. Building multiple, small layouts is sometimes seen as a negative thing because it prevents focus on one area. But, at the same time it allows the builder to create sort of a “quasi-museum” where his or her specific interests are curated and displayed for his/her viewing pleasure and sometimes operation. For anyone with diverse interests, it sure beats keeping beautiful models held hostage in storage boxes.

    Liked by 2 people

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