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The Isle of Westland Railway

It's better by train.......

The  line


 The line exists on a garden with a size about 30 x 30 feet .To start with, all I had (about 25 years ago) was the usual oval around the edge. I became dissatisfied with this and over several 'incarnations' the line has altered and grown to what exists today..........................but is still changing. 

 As you will see from the trackplan page the line is basically a 'folded loop' plan................................ meaning one loop inside another but connected at one point. The use of a crossover has the effect  that the trains take first the outer then inner circuits on their journey.

 This means that there is a lot of track in a small space but I had permission for this from my long suffering wife, Val, as long as I left a bit of grass for the use of my daughter's Guinea pigs and somewhere to sit out in Summer.

There are two 'spurs' leading to the terminus stations at Tamacandy Junction and High Westland. This plan means that there is a continuous circuit which allows trains to 'clock up the miles' between the two termini. The fact that little of the line is visible from any one point means that trains seem to undertake a journey and do not give the impression of running round a circle of track.

By moving my viewing point just a few feet I find that the previously visible sections of track disappear behind foliage and that new views open up This fools the eye into thinking the line is much bigger that it and the fact that the trains keeps covering the same length of track on its journey is not so obvious . I am very pleased with this way of making the line seem much longer than it really is.

What would be a very limited area, by concealing most of the area, now becomes a large collection of 'views'. These can only be seen in full by spending quite a bit of time moving around the garden and interest is maintained this way. It also gives the background for a wide selection of photographs.

I am pleased with this approach and, like many get pleasure from viewing the line whether or not trains are running. The track wending its way through the scenery looks just like the prototype does the vast majority of the trains visible!

The track sitting in the scenery in itself can be  satisfying and I find a walk out around the line is a great way to 'unwind' when things have become too hectic in life. Pull out a few weeds, trim back some plant encroaching on the track and somehow the world cares just seem to dissolve. Maybe a garden railway should be prescribed by Medical Practitioners as a cure to stress.

The track itself  is mainly Peco 32mm Nickel Silver, but there is one section remaining of Tenmille track which is what I started out using some 25 years ago over the whole line! The Peco points are a far superior design hence the change in track used over the years. The terminus stations are laid on concrete slabs bases while the  'running line' is laid on bricks cemented together side to side. This gives a pretty solid base and far better than the wood base which like many I started out with......................which soon warped and it did not last long!

The brick/slab base is very solid and this is necessary as at some sections of the line the only way of carrying out pruning to lineside vegetation is by walking on the track itself. In some places I have cemented small pieces of wood into the mortar between the bricks to allow screws to hold down the track but these seem to rot pretty quickly and drilling where necessary for the use of plastic wall plugs works better.

The track is 'ballasted' with mortar using a 5/1 sand/mortar mix.This has the dual advantage of holding the track firmly, allowing the clearing of debris by the use of a brush and looking like ballast. As you will see from the pics we get a good crop of moss which gives a neglected 'Light railway' look. I have not done anything to promote this but I think that the shade created by all the small 'scale trees'  gives a good shady growing condition from which we benefit. In fact, it is necessary to clear back moss regularly as it builds up in the flangeways and can derail the trains. Running a screwdriver along the flangeways affected does the job!

 Winter weather  can cause a problem as the moss expands and freezes derailing the trains...................a case of 'the wrong kind of moss'?!

The 'foliage'.

One of the best features of garden lines over the indoor version is the fact that we can use live plants....................but of the worst features of garden lines over the indoor version is the fact that we can use live plants !!

They can look good but they need constant attention due to the close proximity to the track and their desire to spread. Overall though I invest the time to get a satisfying effect !

Because I place my line on an imaginary island in the South of the UK I can go for lots of green foliage reminiscent of pictures of lines on the Isle of Wight for example.I just do not have the room for more than a few small buildings and without the 'scenic breaks' provided by the 'greenery' I would have a very good representation of a tabletop line from my youth.

OK I give up on the idea of modelling villages clustered around a station ....................and go for a line winding its way through a coutry setting.When you think about it, the vast majority of lineside seting in the south was of lines running through rolling green areas so this fits in well with the limitations imposed by the site of my model line.

Because the tracks run very close together at parts of the circuit I needed a way to separate them visually so around 100 miniature trees and other plants were added over time. These provide 'scenic breaks' and mean that only small sections of the line can be viewed from any one point in the garden. This means that the trains seem to make a journey through a miniature landscape as shown by the photographs. They, in the main, are cheap specimins from DIY stores where the label indicates that they are slow growing. They are all pruned endlessly which does not seem to kill off too many.

Groundcover is 'Mind your own business' ...........................which spreads like mad but does restrict weed growth and creates the effect of.........................well all those types  of plant that grow beside real railway tracks quite well.

 By adopting the use of bricks laid side by side for the trackbase a 'verge' is created either side of the track where plants such as the rampaging 'Mind your own business' cannot root. Mind spreads its growth over the bricks and, if allowed, over the track.................. but can be cut back easily by sliding the ege of a Builder's trowel along the brick. This acts a bit like a knife and trims the MYOB easily back to the required line. If it gets into the track then boiling water kills it easily.....................and produces a very strange smell ! My Peco track seems to suffer no ill effects by the use of said boiling water treatment.