by Roger Marler
In the summer of 2000, my son moved out and I suddenly had an empty, if
small, spare room. The 9' x 6' space looked a whole lot bigger empty
than when it was occupied; but I wondered for some time what to do with it.
Then the notion of fulfilling a latent ambition came to mind: "Let's
build a model railway!" The idea was born, and OO Gauge was to be the
First thoughts took me back to my early train spotting days at Brighton
Station in my home county of Sussex. I recalled having nearly visited the
preserved Bluebell Railway a few years ago, and then I thought wouldn't
that be an interesting challenge to model the Bluebell? I did not know where to
start and had little idea that there could be any supporting infrastructure in
Calgary for modeling something British, and old. But that fear soon proved to
||The north signal box complete with a herd of Jersey cows behind.
|Narrow gauge milk trolley against up platform; milk stage to
be built, water crane, Blackmore Vale, and main station building under
|So, Bluebell it was to be; but which part and in which era? I
knew precious little about the line, its history or its structure, so I began
what has proven to be very interesting and rewarding research on the line and
its Society. For the diorama I have imagined a line preserved to the early
1930s with a certain amount of licence - OK, a lot of licence - and some
rolling stock that has long since vanished from the real scene and some that
has been lovingly preserved.
Towards the end of 2000, thanks to some knowledgeable contacts within the
Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (BRPS), I located the original
architect's (Myers) drawings, had them copied and mailed to me. These
drawings consisted of plans and elevations to a scale of ¼" to
1'-0" of the up and down platform buildings, the milking stage, and
the original north-end covered wooden footbridge. As often proves to be the
case, some of these were not built exactly as they were designed; but I decided
to build as closely to Myers' drawings as possible.
||Close up of the north signal box, showing interior detail.
|Terrier Earlswood with Southern brake van covered
by tarpaulin and rear of waiting room building on up platform.
|Having never built anything like this before, and appreciating
quickly that I would likely be building most, if not all, from scratch, I set
about some early planning. For instance, a room only 9' long does not allow
for full length platforms and any operations beyond; so they had to be
abbreviated. But I was determined to make something operational and that would
look good at close inspection; so, I started to look for supporting efforts to
help me develop model building skills. By surfing the web for British modellers
in North America, I found and met a local group of enthusiasts who had
sympathetic but somewhat different backgrounds and aims from what I was really
looking for. I decided to go it alone; but I did make and keep a couple of
contacts from that early meeting.
||Station staff barrow crossing and the first attempts at a
Metropolitan rake in the rear.
|The coaling stage in front of the E2, with the water tower and
road bridge beyond. The road bridge will lead to a fiddle yard on other side of
||A general view of main station building on the down platform,
still lots to do!
|Detail of narrow gauge milk cart and crossover with standard
gauge siding. SECR brake van awaiting modifications.
|Then my research took on a new angle as I tried to find local
suppliers of various scratch building materials. While basic plastic and wood
sheet is readily available, such things as Flemish bond brick sheeting or
correctly designed windows and doors certainly are not. I quickly discovered
that importing whatever is necessary is quite straightforward until Canada Post
decides to intercept an occasional package and add what seems to be a
disproportionate amount of "administration fee" before one can
collect that package from the Post Office.
But I was off and running, keen to build, and eager to see how good I could
All photographs are copyright
This page was last updated 17 March 2006