g3A layout in partnership with Gosport Railway Society:

History of the Layout: This layout was originally built by G.A.Allcock, the author of the original book on the railways of Gosport entitled “Gosport’s Railway Era”. Mr Allcock also had a hand in the foundation of Gosport Railway Society and after his death his widow offered the layout to GRS. As far as we can tell the layout was built in the 1970s at about the same time that the book was published (1975) and he used it as an aid when he gave talks about the line to Gosport. GRS have since used it as a static display model at various exhibitions about Gosport and also about the redevelopment of Gosport Station site.

Where we are today:

We became involved with this project in 2004 when we heard that GRS were looking for someone to help them renovate the model. A few email exchanges later and we found ourselves taking custody of the layout from the Secretary of the GRS on the eve of our May 2004 exhibition. In the meantime we had developed a memorandum of understanding as to how we were going to proceed with the renovation project and this was formally signed on the Saturday morning of the show; and so the layout has lived in our club premises since then.

The layout is very much a product of its era. The buildings are for the most part well made and very presentable (we understand that Mr Allcock was an architectural model maker). The track on the other hand isn’t; it is largely Farish 00 (yes, they did once make 00); the sleeper base is disintegrating with age in places and the rails, being steel, have degenerated so badly that it is unlikely that we will be able to make use of them again. Finally, the baseboards are “flat earth” and heavily built, they are perfectly serviceable so we will be keeping them.

Now that we have moved out of Fareham Community Centre we are in a position to start making some progress on the renovation project. So far, and while we were still in Fareham, we have made legs for the three existing boards and built two new boards, one to depict the crossing over Spring Garden Lane towards Royal Clarence Yard and one to depict the area of the engine shed.

We have also done a lot of work on developing a track plan. The plans published in the various books on the line do not really provide enough detail for an accurate plan so we have been to the County Records Office in Winchester and obtained copies of the 25″ to the mile maps for the station precincts. A few deft moves later with an enlarging photocopier and bingo, we have a working track plan. This plan tells us that there are is a slight mistake in the way the existing track on the model is laid out but this is small beer and we will be able to correct it without too much difficulty.

Our next step is to start doing something about the layout, so what are we going to do? Well, the track has to go, that is a given because of the state it is in. We could just relay it using PECO Streamline, but for all its faults Farish track was actually not a bad representation of UK track so we think using PECO track (which is actually H0 with continental sleeper spacing) would be a retrograde step and we think a model like this demands better. This means that the only option open to us it to look at some sort of “finescale” track.

With three EMGS members in the club we could easily convert it into an EM model. The trouble with going that way is that at the end of the day it is not our model, we are only the custodians of it and so we have to think about one day possibly handing it back, and we feel that to hand it back having converted it “out” of the main stream would be a mistake on our part. Also, with the recent improvements in r-t-r models and recent promises of future releases (a lot of which would be suitable to run on the layout) we now have a wide range of suitable stock available “off the shelf”. Taking all this into account we have decided to settle on a variation of 00 hand built track using C&L Finescale and Exactoscale components for the points and C&L flexitrack. Progress so far on the track has been to build a few test pieces so that we can prove to ourselves that we have a working, viable system in place before we start the layout itself. Once we have completed this to our satisfaction we will be setting off on the main restoration project.

Click on a photo for a larger image.