|. Middlebrook .|
- Paul Moxham
"It is a warm summer's day in the 1950's in south Lancashire. Dunscar Road station, some half mile from the village of Dunscar, shimmers in the early afternoon heat. With both station and loco shed apparently deserted, there is little evidence of life in this quiet corner of the County Palatine, a few unattended vans parked outside the goods shed the only sign of railway activity.
As we soak up the warmth of the sun, we are suddenly alerted by the clatter of a signal being cleared away to our left, to be followed almost immediately by the sound of an air horn away to our right. This train was to be hauled by one of the line's recently purchased diesel locomotives. Almost at once the train appeared, its gleaming locomotive contrasting sharply with its train of weatherbeaten stone wagons as it roared through the station in a cloud of exhaust and stone dust. Before we could take in this sight, the train had rumbled on to its destination and the station settled back into its summer slumber.
This had been our first encounter with the narrow gauge Middlebrook Light Railway."
As my first complete 009 layout, this 8 foot square of fictitious light railway based on the area around the north of Bolton made its debut at Model Rail North West in Bolton in 1999, where the attached picture was taken.
It is an attempt to show that not all narrow gauge is tiny four wheeled locos hauling even tinier wagons around impossibly tight curves (the tightest radius on the layout is 18 inches). Most of the stock on the layout is based around standard gauge locomotives and wagons, with much of the coaching stock inspired by Isle of Man and Irish prototypes. Most of the track is handbuilt using C&L parts intended for standard gauge track and whilst the railway is freelance, I have tried to reflect the real industries of this part of Lancashire.
There were extensive quarries in the Horwich area and also several bleach & dye works, along with the cotton industry for which Bolton is famous. All of these offer scope for varied traffic flows for this imaginary light railway.
As this is written (late 2000), I regret to report that for a variety of reasons there has been little progress since the photo was taken, but watch this space !
Published by Chris MacKenzie for the
Virtual Narrow Gauge Model Railway Exhibition
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