So the time has finally come to unveil the plan for my next layout. Given that I'm still not happy with the track plan for 77 Box Lane that will stay on the drawing board for now, and this is an entirely new and different layout.
One of the things I liked about my N gauge layout, Jerusalem (which is now boxed up and being stored in the loft) was that it had a roundy-roundy track plan so I could just watch the trains go by. It was also useful for running in and testing new locomotives as they could be left going for hours if necessary without any intervention. Given the size I had to play with 77 Box Lane was always going to be an end-to-end layout and while I'm happy with that (although not the current track plan) I did feel it would be useful to have some form of continuous run test track, even if that was a simple circle of temporary track.
I wasn't actively planning a new layout when a random comment sent me off on a bit of historical research. I grew up in Morley, a small town just outside Leeds, and I've known for a long time (pretty much as long as I can remember) that many of the early builders of locomotives and rolling stock were based in and around Leeds; it's one of the reasons I have a soft spot for the Quarry Hunslet locomotives. What I didn't know, until recently, was that I actually grew up less than three miles from the main works of one of the companies.
Robert Hudson Ltd was founded in 1865 and had it's main works at Gildersome a small village just outside Morley (it's officially been part of Morley since 1937). This was a huge site covering 38 acres and was well served by a 2 foot tramway. Raw materials and finished products arrived and left the site via the standard gauge branch line that formed the northern edge of the site. You can see these and many other details on both the 1938 map and a 1928 aerial photograph.
What immediately caught my eye though was the circular feature which is very clear on the map, but unfortunately is unlabelled as to purpose. Zooming in on the photo though and it's purpose becomes clearer. It's a circular test track on which you can see what looks like a couple of wagons.
To me this looks perfect for turning into a pizza layout. It will give me somewhere to test and run in locomotives and wagons while being based on an actual location. There also appears to be a variety of building styles to perfect and some dry stone walling. I know that so far I've not built any Hudson wagons or locomotives which they re-sold (they didn't build their own but rather re-sold those produced by companies such as Hudswell Clarke, Kerr Stuart, and Hunslet) but I can always apply Rule 1 of railway modelling; it's my trainset so I'll run whatever I want to!
The problem I have is that this grainy photo contains the only details I have on the buildings surrounding the test track. There is a drawing in Alan J. Haigh's book on the foundry (published by the Moseley Railway Trust) but it doesn't provide any extra details. So does anyone know of any further drawings or photos of that area of the works that might show more details of the buildings. If you do please leave a comment.
From some rough measurements, I believe that I can fit the circle of track and the buildings immediately surrounding it onto a board that will fit into the box I originally bought for Jerusalem but which was about 1cm too small. So this means it will fit on my desk and I'll have storage for it. The next step will be a full scale mockup (starting from the map) to check everything will fit and then I can make a start on the baseboard and then building some track. This should be fun!