On Sunday 28th December we had the pleasure of experiencing a steam train journey from Kings Cross to Leeds. We joined the train at Kings Cross where we saw the hustle and bustle of a main line station. After a stuttering start by the Gresley A4 No 60033 Seagull we soon plunged into Gas Works Tunnel and re-emerged into the daylight on the approaches to Hornsey, by this time the train was starting to pick up speed. Passing through Hornsey station the train soon plunged into Wood Green tunnel and after a few minutes we were in open countryside. Passing through Hatfield and Hitchin at speed we were well into our journey, before we knew it we had passed through Peterborough before speeding through Essendine.
The train was eating up the miles and in no time we had reached our first stop at Retford, here the locomotive took on water, and whilst there the Coronation express passed through heading for London, being pulled by another A4 No 60014 Silver Link. It made a magnificent site as it passed through on the Middle line. Soon our train was on the move again and in no time we were approaching Doncaster, to the left of us was the extensive goods yard and as we pulled into the station another train heading for London passed through at speed. The train was travelling so fast that I didn’t have the chance to get the number all I saw was that it was being pulled by an A2 class locomotive. Our train was soon on its way again and in no time pulling into Leeds Central, an imposing station with an overall glass roof. We left our train and continued viewing the surroundings.
All of the above happened during a visit to the Gainsborough Model Rail Clubs magnificent model railway.
Over the last seventy years the club has created a layout that depicts the journey from Kings Cross in London to Leeds Central. The model is housed in a Victorian school building in Florence Terrace, Gainsborough Lincolnshire. The period modelled is from the LNER in 1923 through to the end of British Railways, featuring around 180 locomotives, 160 carriages and 250 pieces of goods rolling stock. The layout features nine of the stations on this route all of which are faithful representations and there are also seven engine sheds. The route comprises of around 160 sets of points and nearly a half of a mile of trackwork most of which has been built by the club members.
The layout is controlled by ten operators and all communication is by the authentic bell code system. These operators control the trains, locomotives and make up of goods trains in the marshalling yards, they also control the points and signals.
The majority of the locomotives and stock, stations and Scenics have been made by club members and those such as the Mallard and the Flying Scotsman can be seen pulling expresses such as the Yorkshire Pullman and the West Riding.
The model of Kings Cross station is remarkable, being constructed mainly from card and the overall arched roof with it’s suspended lighting gives a faithful representation of the existing terminal that still exists to-day. It also features the sounds of a busy station with train announcements and the general hub hub of everyday life. There is also a locomotive servicing facility where they are prepared for their next tour of duty. Above the Gas Works tunnels is a scene depicting the Regents Canal.
At the back of the main line station is a large goods yard catering for all types of freight and features a Road Rail terminal where cars are unloaded from flat wagons via an end loading ramp whilst passengers alight at the station.
Hornsey is a through station with carriage sidings and a locomotive depot. The next station is Hitchin, where the trains that stop here are mainly locals followed by Retford which is built on a curve and a faithful representation of an important busy through station. Here stopping trains call regularly and some of the larger mainline trains have their locomotives changed. There is a another locomotive depot with a small goods yard.
From Retford we move on to Doncaster, a very busy station with a locomotive depot and a large goods yard. Some trains terminate here and held in the bay platform awaiting for a replacement locomotive for the return journey. Local stopping trains call here and in the goods yard made up and released to their destination.
After Doncaster is Fitzwilliam, a small country station with staggered platforms connected by a rather attractive footbridge and serviced by local stopping trains only. Leeds Central , a representation of the now closed station has an overall glass roof and a rather attractive station building and a locomotive shed where engines are turned and serviced for their return workings.
We had the most enjoyable two hours well worth driving two hours to see this layout, it is one of the must see model railways for anyone interested in model railways and East Coast railway enthusiasts alike.