Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Havenbank - My tribute to Catcott Burtle

Without a doubt, one of the most talked about layouts on the RMweb forum is Chris Nevards Catcott Burtle. A beautifully observed, atmospheric slice of the Somerset and Dorset Railway that is only 5' long by 18" deep. There are simple locations all over the country that could inspire such a layout. So I thought I'd seek out a Lincolnshire one. Something to give a modeller a layout that could be small yet interesting to operate. It wasn't difficult. I give you Havenbank.
In 00 scale it could be about 6' long and 18" deep. Havenbank is inspired by three locations on the Skegness branch line. Thorpe Culvert, Havenhouse and Seacroft. The Station with those impossibly short platforms is based on Seacroft. As you look at the pictures of Seacroft you will see that the platforms are very short indeed. Seacroft Station however is long gone now. The station building burned down in the 1970's and the signal box was demolished when the level crossing gates were replaced by lights in 1990. The trackplan in the goods yard is an amalgam of Thorpe Culvert and Havenhouse.
You will notice that the station is on a double track line. In the summer time the line to Skegness has always been very busy with many many passenger trains and special excursions to the coast.
One really attractive feature of the Skegness branch was the amount of Great Northern somersault signals along the line. It would be great to model a working one of them.
The loading dock at Havenhouse Station actually had a 2' gauge railway on it that came from New Marsh Farm. The farm dispatched in excess of 200 tons of seed potatoes a year at its peak. The narrow gauge line line was kept in service until 1949. I've chosen not to add it to the plan in this version as there is little room to show it to its best effect. But if the layout was to be lengthened there's no reason why you couldn't add it.
You would probably want to lengthen the layout too as if you fancy running models of Skegness excursion trains you'll need longer fiddle yards and you really don't want to have a layout where each fiddle yard is twice the length of the visible area of the layout. I think though that as it stands in this shorter 6' version if you were to model Havenbank in the steam era you could have a quite interesting model on your hands, with a lot of agricultural traffic and a healthy passenger service.
Would I build it? There's no denying that I am very drawn to those short platforms and that arrangement of station buildings at Seacroft. But in P4 I think the layout would need to be a good three feet longer and then it wouldn't fit in my model railway room.

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