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Playing Norfolk Trains


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Sometimes I have said I am going up to my loft to play trains, and I thought you might like to see what I get up to!

A few weeks ago a friend, also a modeller, came to take some photos, for a modelling forum, and he took this, which I had made up from a “Prototype” card kit more than 30 years ago. Until the photo I had not realised how worn up it had got after several house moves and I had always known that the roof was the wrong size for a Great Eastern type signal box.


So three weeks later a new roof became a major overhaul, and now it looks like this:


The interior is also a white metal kit. Boxes like this could be seen all over the Broads, in places such as Reedham, Acle, Wroxham, Coltishall and there is a well preserved one at Sheringham.


I am modelling the original Norfolk Railway in central Norfolk, between Wymondham and Dereham, as it was in 1952. This line is now preserved as the Mid Norfolk Railway. I have based it mostly on the station at Thuxton, and here is an exact scale model of the station building, entirely hand made:



You have to imagine the station platform, running along at the bottom of the doors, as I haven’t built that yet!



Another scale model of the Great Eastern style waiting room at Thuxton. The windows are clear plastic sheet with the frames drawn out in enamel paint with a draughtsman’s bow pen.



The canopy spandrels are also clear plastic, with the design drawn by a bow pen. You can read the letters GER in the design

By the way, I am modelling in 4mm : 1ft scale, also known (wrongly) as OO gauge, but we won’t get into that argument!

Hope you like these but I think I have now run out of megawatts, or whatever they are, so I will post them, and then more to follow -




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The gents toilet is modelled with a urinal!



This is the waiting room at Yaxham, on the same line.




This was my first attempt at a building. It is the crossing keeper’s cottage on the junction between the Lynn and Fakenham Railway and the Norfolk Railway, just south of Dereham. It was a ruin when I photographed and measured it, so I had to guess a bit. The ornate gable ends are typical of Norfolk Railway buildings. By then, it was under the new Dereham bypass road bridge and I believe it has now been demolished in an industrial estate.

In the next post, I can show you some locomotives and rolling stock. Here is a taster :




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Right, let's play trains!


This is the milk train, the first train of the day, which left the depot at North Elmham, just north of Dereham, for the Milk Marketing Board at Harford Bridges, in Norwich. Drawn by an ex GER class E4 mixed traffic engine. A Nu - Cast white metal kit with scratch built chassis and suspension, and Romford wheels. Made over 40 years ago.


The train stopped at all stations on the line and the LNER full brake coach was used to load the milk churns, from local farms on the way. The railways carried a lot of milk but it got a bad Press in the end. The wagons were always so dirty on the outside that the public couldn't believe the milk was still clean!


This is the first stopping passenger train of the day, always called the "Parliamentary" as it was obliged to offer Government sponsored discount tickets to 3rd class passengers on their way to work. The ex GER coaches once made up the express trains to London in the 1920s, before the LNER and were still seen on branch lines in Norfolk until the 60s. This is the sort of train you might have caught from Norwich to Wroxham, or Coltishall. They are etched brass kits from D&S Models and are entirely made by soldering, apart from the gangway connections, which are made from corrugated writing paper.100_3723.thumb.jpg.f265088d7d320dd74cd9c97accfb14b6.jpg

The train is hauled by a GER class J15, modelled on the preserved one at the North Norfolk Railway. It is a brass kit from Alan Gibson and was a job to make as I had to hide the motor and gearbox in the little boiler so as to leave the open cab clear to be modelled.


I model all my engines with the coal tender half empty, which is more realistic. I model it with real coal, crunched up in a pair of pliers. This is one of the jobs I am not allowed to do in the house!


This train is a semi fast, stopping only at principle stations between Norwich and Kings Lynn. These were among the first suburban coaches to be fitted with corridor compartments and toilets. This is the sort of train you might have caught from Norwich to Lowestoft.


The first vehicle is a horse box. Maybe on the way to Newmarket, via Norwich.


The engine is a class D16/3 "Claud Hamilton" class, from a brass kit by Mallard Models. Very difficult to make, with all those curved valances, but well worth it. Spray painted, with "mixed traffic" lining and lettering by Fox Transfers.


This is skipping ahead a bit, to 1955, but it shows what came after the steam engines. This is an Airfix ready-to-run engine, heavily modified to show the Brush type 2 (class 31) in original condition with no headboards or warning panels and front doors for coach gangway connections. They also had a boiler, for the steam heated coaches. They weren't very reliable at first and sometimes had to be towed in, with their train, by a steam locomotive. This would always bring roars of applause from the crowds when it pulled into the platform at Norwich!

This one is shown hauling the part of the Broadsman express which was detached at Norwich and went on to Cromer and Sheringham. The rest of the train went on to Yarmouth Vauxhall. The Norfolkman (ex Norfolk Coast Express) still ran a buffet car service all the way to Cromer.


The coaches are ex LNER Gresley, from Ian Kirk plastic kits, made a bit better by flush glazing the windows. They look a bit tatty, because so did the real things! The new British Railways "blood and custard" livery did not take well to the original varnished teak sides and they very soon got badly weathered. I am sure a boat painter would tell you that you can't paint over varnish!

I seem to have run out of megawatts again, so more to follow. . . 

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18 hours ago, TheQ said:


B17 "Woodbastwick Hall"



Quite right!

This was a Hornby B17 "Footballer" class that I bought 40 years ago. The great thing about Hornby is that even that long ago, their locos were made to exact scale dimensions, so they can form the base of some good models. In my case, I wanted a "Sandringham" class with the short Great Eastern tender, which was needed for the short turntables on the GER lines.

All that is left of the Hornby model is the plastic boiler, footplate and cab. The tender is a white metal kit from Nu - Cast. The tender and loco chassis are scratch built with Gibson wheels; pistons and valve gear from the Nu-Cast B1 kit and a Portsecap RG4 motor. Also some bits by Crownline Models including the Westinghouse air brake gear, which was necessary for all Great Eastern rolling stock.


These were the mainline coaches on the Norwich expresses. Although nationalisation, and the new livery, was in 1948, a lot of stock remained in the LNER teak livery for many years.


That was until the Britannias came! This model is also Hornby, with a Comet chassis and gearbox, Gibson wheels and a Mashima motor.


With the new Mk 1 coaches, the three named expresses from Norwich to London were running the fastest scheduled passenger service in the country, in those days. These models are old Mainline (later Bachmann) models, with Comet etched brass sides and a lot of extra roof and interior detail. They turned out to be an awful lot more work than I thought, and it is a ten coach train!



Mk 1 catering vehicles were after 1955, so this train still has LNER Thomson vehicles, made from Comet brass kits.


The tables in first class are laid for lunch!


I hope you have enjoyed this, as I think that railway modelling can also be historical of a place and time, if it is done accurately. Holidaymakers in the 50s, from London and the south west, would have come to the Broads on trains exactly like these. You may not remember them but I bet your parents, or your grandparents, would!

For me, it is a special personal memory as well, as this is how I grew up :


This is the sort of sight that came blasting across Thorpe Island, doing around 50 MPH under full steam, on its way to Yarmouth. The noise as they crossed the river bridge was incredible and the whole island used to quake, like a jelly!

Happy memories!



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Hi Vaughan beautiful models! very well done ,I remember going on the train to hunstanton for day out on a sunday as a child,the carriages were packed, bucket and spades,  deck chairs ,shopping bags for towels food and drink. always seemed to be sunny. John

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Beautifull Modelling,

I remember the LNER Buffet cars, Back in 1977 the SRPS acquired one, just out of use from BR.

LNER Gresley Buffet Car No.644

We had just got it and I believe restoration to teak had occured when BR borrowed it back again!! It was used on our railtours till recently but is now undergoing a full restoration..

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  • 1 year later...

I thought you might like an up-date on what I have been up to in the garage this summer!

I thought it was time I started to make a layout, although I will have nowhere in the house big enough for it, when it is finished! I have already made scale drawings and wanted to portray it on a curve, which makes it much more interesting. 

So - take a sheet of 8mm ply, staple on a sheet of plain backing wallpaper to draw on, drill some holes in a bit of wood and staple it to a length of thin electric cable (which won't stretch). Poke a felt tip pen through the hole, pass it across the paper and you end up with a 15ft radius curve.


Trace out the other holes, measured to scale, and you have a double track railway line, on a curve equivalent to about 17 chains in full scale. Still fairly sharp in railway terms, but quite realistic on a model.


From this, I can draw out a plan for the pointwork in the station layout.


I had already made the basic pointwork a few years ago, so now I can lay it out, and it should look effective, as it is made to follow the curve.100_3797.thumb.jpg.eb5913ff10765735b1ae66a545376878.jpg

So now that I have the basic trackbed, I can start to make the baseboards, to fit it into the scenery.





So far I have made 4 baseboards which are all one metre wide and bolt together with threaded rod and butterfly nuts.


Now we begin to see the profile of the countryside, that the railway will pass through. This is very important, as the model must look as though the railway has been built to pass through the countryside and not the other way round!


Next, the trackbed can be laid onto the baseboards.


This is the first chance to see how it all might look when it is finished (with luck) so I have spent a couple of days just looking at it, and moving the buildings around to find the best arrangement. I have ended up shifting the whole station about 4 inches to the right, which will give more room for the pointwork at the left, so it now looks as though the station building is hanging over the edge! This doesn't matter, as the scenery is naturally falling away as it goes past the front, where there will be a road, which crosses the railway at a level crossing, with gates. Hence the crossing keeper's cottage, to the right in the photo. The platforms are just mock-ups, which I shall make properly now that I know where they are going to sit.




So far so good. With a bit of luck it might not look too bad. Next job will be to saw up the track bed where it crosses the baseboard joints, so that I can separate them, and work on each one on its own. Then I can start laying the track. In January, I am taking over the rent on a storage unit in the village, so I will have somewhere to set it all up. The final layout will be about 7 metres long, so I need some space!




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As far as I know there isn't a specific forum for GER Modelling.  only one about the real thing that was https://www.gersociety.org.uk/

RMweb, us the biggest UK model railway forum, and has a vast amount of sub groups, your layout would come under Modelling real locations  .

 Once you start posting your layout on there you will attract those of a similar interest.

For  spectacular modelling have a look at this thread.. https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/28293-manchester-central-clc-gn-warehouses-castlefield-viaducts/

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Smoggy and Vaughan, you’ve brightened up my week. Having stood on the Norwich bound platform of North Walsham station yesterday morning from 7.40 until 9.00 on the back of buff live departure board info on my smart phone before giving up the will to travel I decided to get ahead of the game today and simply catch the bus ab initio!

The new stadler low level diesel electric trains can’t seem to cope with leaves, rain nor stopping on a sixpence when the barriers raise early to let the cars block their path; seriously glad there was no collision and hence no one was killed or suffered life changing injuries which could have been the outcome. Luck played a part given time and day.

Bring back manned model level crossings!

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