The Norfolk Group of the 009 Society (Chapter 1: 1984 to 1994)
When considering our Norfolk & Suffolk Group and our interest in narrow gauge railway modelling, there was once an earlier Group called the “Norfolk 009 Group” principally involved in modelling in 009 scale and all members of the 009 Society. Only very rarely were we involved with other scales, even then it would mainly be “00” – standard gauge.
It all started in October 1984, when I placed a paragraph in the society newsletter requesting anyone interested in forming a local Group to contact me. The first person to respond was a lovely Lancashire chap, recently retired, named Ray Fothergill. He visited me on 29th November and brought some of his rolling stock and locomotives for me to view. He had made many models, but had so far not built a layout. I, on the other hand had built a layout but only had a couple of continental loco’s and some “Dundas Models” and Liliput stock. His enthusiasm for 009 was very infectious. He had built some of his models from card, and on his coaches he replicated beadings and mouldings from cotton sewn into the coach sides, this of course was in the days prior to kits, micro-strip and suchlike. He loved the Glyn Valley Tramway and many of his models were based on GVT prototypes. He also showed me some Egger-Bahn models, including the steam railcar, the first time I had ever seen these. At home he had a collection of 00 scale trams and ran a tramway layout at the Norwich Model Railway Club.
Models by Ray Fothergill. A Peco Glyn Valley Tramway kit plus three four-wheeled GVT coaches scratch built from card.
More four-wheelers, an early Parkside-Dudas kit and two scratch built from plastic card.
The only other remnants of Rays collection are "Ian" a modified Egger-Jouef Decauville loco, a sheep wagon and an Egger Prussian coach.
Apart from Ray, three other people replied to my paragraph in the newsletter, a married couple from Fakenham, and another chap from Norwich, who I still meet occasionally. We met monthly at each other’s houses taking it in turn and generally we viewed each other’s layouts and new models and had a short running session, we also lent out books, watched videos and sometimes slide shows. The couple from Fakenham were prolific model makers, it seemed each time we visited their house there was a new layout to look at. One layout was in an old radiogram cabinet, and another of their layouts was sold to the late, great P D Hancock. Gerald from Norwich was interested in Bemo HOe continental, and had a growing collection of fine items.
During the next three years we had new members, two people coming from Cambridge on occasions. One long standing member and lay preacher, had a section of 71/4” railway down his garden which we enjoyed riding on from time to time. Another creative couple in Norwich had a large loft layout, while I developed my 8ft x 2ft “Tregony & Newbridge Railway” in my spare bedroom.
Graham and Ray pictured in 1994 at a "Hobbies and Crafts Day" in Norwich with two of the modules.
For our fifth Anniversary, I issued a special newsletter, a contributor was P D Hancock who I had been writing to for a year or two. He had by then moved on to a 0-16.5 7mm scale layout in his loft due to failing eyesight and was also creating his SM32 garden railway “The Torlum Hill Light Railway”. I also had permission to quote a page in full from James Boyd’s Wild Swan publication “The Talyllyn Railway”, when he visited in war time - a lovely piece of writing. Also listed in this little issue is a list of thirteen layouts that we have all built, or part-built, during the first five years of the Group. It was at this meeting that we discussed the possibility of one day building a “module” each, that would link together to form a large layout, Ray presented a mock-up of the idea based on a system he had seen which was built by the Greenwich & District Group (it would be nearly two years though before anything developed though).
Just after this we met for a nice evening at the Yaxham Light Railway, taking rides on the narrow gauge railway hauled by small wartime diesels. A later meeting saw us all viewing Ray’s nearly complete “Fother Valley Railway”, this line ran on two levels with an upper and lower station.
At the end of 1990, following a long discussion, we planned how we might construct scenic modules each. It was decided that the scenic section for each module would be 36” by 18”, and between each module there would be an 18” joiner section with hidden front and rear tracks where trains could be held before passing to the next module. Each module would have a separate scene totally enclosed by back and end scene boards. Feverish activity over the next two years resulted in at least 11 completed modules including “end” units and one “corner” unit.
The first module to be completed.
The yellow Bagnall loco and stone train is running through "The Heronry" a module inspired by a picture of the Southwold Railway's "Tinkers Covert".
Trees were hand made using florists wire and brown florists tape, then adding Woodland Scenics foliage.
Gerald from Norwich worked at a shop fitting company and was able to obtain all the ply wood and sundeala board, and get it drilled and cut by machine to exact measurements ensuring all the modules were exactly the same and therefore would all bolt together without misalignment. I know that at least two modules didn’t get completed, but of the completed ones we had units called “Bryn Corach”, “Newlyn”, “The Heronry” (inspired by the Southwold Railway), “Peacehaven”, ”Markate Quarry Works”, “Sandcliffe Junction” and “Whitemoor”. End run-round units were called “Bryn Melyn Halt”, “Castle Hydeaway”, “Church End” and “Scronkey” and also a corner unit named “Goldoch” (based on Dolgoch on the Tallylyn Railway). Many of the modules gathered together for the first time in the Autumn of 1991, and when we joined them all up at a dress rehearsal for our first exhibition we ran a scale mile of track.
The first exhibition was at St Andrews Hall in March 1992 and they were exhibited a total of fifteen times, plus another five test sessions. Sometimes just two or three modules were exhibited at a time, it depended on the space available at various venues.
My first module called "Newlyn" featured a long cliff face, a viaduct over a canal and an upper passenger station. Entering the station from the joiner board, is a Liliput 0-6-2 loco and goods train.
Ray's module called "Bryn Corach" was based on the Glyn Valley Tramway terminus at Glyn Ceiriog in Wales. A George England saddle tank enters from the left.
This is a picture of "Peacehaven". It featured passenger station, siding to a works, some of the very first "Townstreet" buildings and canal and river boat frontage.
Practice session at Buxton School 1992. "The Heronry" and "Peacehaven" can be seen in this shot, and it shows the joiner boards with hoods. Each scenic board was a separate self- contained scene.
This is a picture of "Bryn Melyn Halt", an "end loop" board. It featured a beautifully made Mill. Seen entering the halt is a Kerr Stuart 0-4-2 Corris loco.
A second module that I built was "Whitemoor". A Liliput 0-6-0 loco named "Luke" and goods train leaves the station over the gorge.
Another module was "Scronkey", this was an end unit.
The scene was a simple run-through station halt with a raised village along the rear. A quarry Hunslet passes by with goods train.
Another picture of "Whitemoor" showing the village scene.
This module is "Sandcliffe Junction", and a Darjeeling loco runs in with passenger train. The scene featured a lower station and an upper tramway which ran automatically using a electronic "shuttle" module.
A picture from the balcony at Kings Lynn Corn Exchange in 1994 when we ran the modules at an exhibition there.
That day we ran "Castle Hydeaway" (extreme bottom left) "Bryn Corach" (with Ray operating) a corner module named "Goldoch", "The Heronry" and "Whitemoor". This gave us a sort of end-to-end configuration for the day.
Inevitably there were problems using this system. The sundeala board warped, and as there were many (too many) baseboard joins, this caused running problems sometimes, and also, as each scene had different track plans, there could be long delays at some modules passing the trains through, where as others just had a single run-through track and the train would pass by in a few seconds. This was not good for onlookers, as they could stand looking at a module with no trains running or just glimpsing it as it ran by.
(History 1995 onwards - to follow)