Monday, January 01, 2007

A diversion...

So, happy new year to all readers of my blog and welcome to 2007!!

My first post of the year has something to do with Wales and railway modelling, but not narrow gauge or 4mm scale. It is in fact, my Dad's layout (the railway artist's -

Firstly, it's in 3mm scale as is standard gauge. For those of you who might not have heard of 3mm modelling, see the society site at

It's a junction, where main line Cambrian coast services meet branch services from Caergwyddno. Where I hear you ask? Well, that's an interesting story...

It all relates the the legend of the Cantre’r Gwaelod (in English, the low hundred). For more info see

Basically, Cantre’r Gwaelod extended some 20 miles west of the current shoreline into what is now Cardigan Bay, and was ruled as part of the Kingdom of Meirionnydd by Gwyddno Garanhir (Longshanks). The land was said to be extremely fertile, so much so that it was said that any acre there was worth four acres elsewhere (certainly the kind of place a railway might serve).

The catch was that the land depended on a dyke to protect it from the sea. The dyke had sluice gates that were opened at low tide to drain the water from the land, and closed as the tide returned.

One night a storm blew up from the south west, driving the spring tide against the sea walls. The appointed watchman, Seithennin, a heavy drinker and friend of the King, was at a party in the King’s palace near Aberystwyth. Some say he fell asleep due to too much wine or that he was too busy having fun to notice the storm and to shut the sluices. The water gates were left open, and the sea rushed in to flood the land of the Cantref, drowning over 16 villages.

OK, so this legend is apparently dated as 600 AD, well before railways, but it's a nice story and something to get people talking.

A visit to Sarn Gynfelyn, a natural causeway integral to the legend, and Borth Sands where the remains of an ancient forest are revealed at low tide show perhaps why the legend continues to this day. Another cluster of ancient tree stumps is located in the mouth of the Dovey Estuary.

In 2003, British scientists unveiled a scanning technique that can create a map of sea beds to identify where people might have lived in the sea off the current Welsh coastline.

Back to the fiction Caergwyddno is the castle of Gwyddno on this area now flooded by Cardigan Bay... The actual station is called 'Glaslyn Junction' and features a lovely Cambrian-style river bridge. This would place the station somewhere between Porthmadog and Minffordd on the Cambrian coast line.

The station name board - not painted, but printed on high quality inkjet paper on a home printer. I will use the same technique for the Rhyd Ddu nameboards, the font is arial black.

That bridge, the water is modelled using woodland scenics 'realistic water' and it looks pretty realistic!

The goods shed, a card shell faced with DAS modelling clay and scribed, a technique likely to find use on Rhyd Ddu with all those stone walls to model!

The station building. Why brick, when the good shed is stone? Well, the branch line was there first (600 AD!!) and the Cambrian brick style came with the main line, but they kept the good shed, or something like that!

A view along the layout, about half finished. The points are operated by the 'wire in tube' method, there will be hidden sidings both ends, 2 controllers (DC not DCC) and a backscene (maybe a painted draped curtain), lighting and final scenery. The area to the left of the image above may well become a row of houses...

Nice eh! The first show is likely to be in Cheltenham in April...


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