Planning the ‘Big Layout’ Part 1- Choosing a Location

It was after my first visit to Tony Wright’s and seeing his truly wonderful layout ‘Little Bytham’, that the clogs started working. My existing layout Leaman Road was frustrating me. I’m not a fan of the DCC system, the layout wasn’t interesting me enough and I longed to run full length trains.

After viewing and understanding how Tony’s layout is designed, I realised it would be possible to to have a 35ft layout (32ft scenic) and give me the trainset I had always dreamed of. The next decision would be, where to model?

Simple answer would be ECML and pre war. Those who follow my blog, will have noticed my move to 1930’s which I do no regret at all, it’s a less modelled era and who couldn’t love Apple Green and Garter Blue Pacifics.

Now the ECML is a rather big expanse, and there are plenty of modellable areas, so the next question was, where exactly to model? The answer I knew almost straight away, the stretch of ECML between Northallerton and York, I was drawn to this area as I had used to travel on it when I was studying in Manchester. This section of ECML had also been where the LNER trialled it’s new colour light signalling system, which also adds for something different. Although there are areas on the Southern end of the ECML that are equally as interesting, these do not offer the emotional connection to the North Yorkshire section, plus all those wonderful Worsdell and Raven workhorses.

There was several stations to choose from, with varying degrees of operational interest. Starting from North to South:











I can rule out York…. I would need something like 100ft at least to do some sort of representation. Northallerton had been considered, but had to be ruled out due to it’s complexity and size.

Another area worth noting and taking into account, was the LNER’s 1933 ECML widening. With great investment, the LNER set out to begin quadrupling the ECML between Northallerton and York. This wasn’t completed for another 30 years, but a start was made, with several miles being widened to four track mainline. This, along with the new signalling would mean the inclusion of some rather unique looking art deco buildings (signal boxes and station building depending on location).

I have now pretty much come to a conclusion of where I’m going to model, but for the moment I’m keeping this to my self while I research further material into this possible location.

My next blog will look into the types of trains I will be modelling on this wonderful stretch of Main Line Railway.

Thanks for reading.


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