In March 2014 Julian Birley, the originator of the Evercreech New (EN) layout was downsizing and the future of this superb layout was in doubt.

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Following consultations with Simon Kennedy acting as an intermediary, it was confirmed with Julian that he thought the idea of the Yeovil Group taking on EN was great as it would have a better opportunity of being seen by people if it is with a club rather than an individual.

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The station at Evercreech New in its original home at North Barrow.

Dismantling of EN started in July 2014. It took two Wednesday visits to dismantle EN and move it to CS2 our clubrooms. Only the front of EN was being taken by YMRG.

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EN is available for exhibition.  It has already been a static exhibit to Evercreech Village Hall as part of the 50th anniversary of the closing of the S&DJR.  EN has now been rewired and the old Tortoise point motors replaced with servos.  The signals have been similarly modified.  EN can now be used as a shunting layout utilising just the station boards and can be controlled by either conventional DC or DCC controllers.  Our objective now is to graft EN onto the fiddle yard used by The Summit. That will give us two large 7mm layouts available for exhibition.

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The buildings on the layout are by Allan Downes and some used a fireclay mix to simulate the Mendip stonework.  In places this had deteriorated and the goods shed has recently been subject to some superb repairs and a light wash to blend the repairs in and to better simulate the limestone actually used at Evercreech.

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Construction of the new boards that will connect Evercreech New to The Summit fiddle yard.  The two large boards are 12′ corner to corner.  One end will feature a full length Prestleigh Viaduct with the twin tunnel bridges in Cannards Grave Cutting as scenic exit.  The other end will feature Pecking Mill Viaduct and will use the three arch occupation bridge that still exists between Pecking Mill and Evercreech New as the scenic exit.

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This is the stillage that we will need to transport Evercreech New to Taunton later in October.  This stillage will carry both of the large boards with room for more boards stacked on top.

Prestleigh Viaduct

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At the northern end of Evercreech New the opportunity has been taken to represent the full eleven arches of Prestleigh Viaduct.   The model being over 8′ long.  The carcass is laser etched based on a drawing originally from Bob Alderman. Our model uses laser etched card and MDF to represent the arch and the various brickwork bonds used.  The stonework is represented by Slaters vacuum formed stone sheet.

Prestleigh Viaduct was normally viewed from A371, this being the original side and the inside of the nominal curve on the prototype.  Our model needed to be on a tighter curve and to be viewed from the outside of the curve.  As on the prototype the brick arches are parallel and the piers wedge shaped to make the curve.  The side visible to the punter is therefore the side not visible from the A371, where (being the widened side) the stone was not of such good quality as the original, and had required a lot of repairs both in blue and orange brick.  On the side the plastic stone has been cut away and thinned in an attempt to  fairly represent the extent and nature of these repairs.  Both the blue and orange laser etched card will be toned down in due course.   In this context it is interesting to note that it was the ‘new’ side of Bath Road Viaduct that collapsed in 1946!

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Prestleigh Viaduct in-situ, clad and landscaped ready for the Bath & West Great Model Railway Show.

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Some close ups of the landscaped structure:

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Normans’ Bridge

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The exit to the fiddle yard at the Prestleigh Viaduct end is the twin portal Normans’ Bridge.  This was a substantial structure some 60′ long, at the foot of a deep cutting and well on the way to being a tunnel. The left portal being added when the line was doubled, the structure was in a mixture of brick and stone and the grainy photos that we have seem to show that the southern portal at least was in reasonable condition.   The Normans incidentally are the local farmers who still farm the land around the cutting that they filled in, and live nearby.   Your editor likes to imagine that there continues to be an army of them (hence Normans’). The farmer Norman at the time the bridge was built insisted that a six foot high solid wooden fence should be built along the top of the bridge embankment to stop his cattle having ‘kittens’ at the sight of the trains, and the fence was there right to the end.   Clearances on the S&D were quite tight, so a test was carried out to check that the tall chimneys on our 7F 2-8-0s will not get knocked off by this rather unforgiving structure.

The carcase is constructed of 6mm MDF with sections of 110mm PVC drainage pipe which happened to be the perfect diameter to form the arches.  They are clad with Slater’s stone and brick sheets.  The characteristic copings are strips of ply with the top corners rounded of with a strip of self adhesive label applied to form each brick with a gap for the mortar joint – it took three evenings to make enough of it.  The pediments above the piers are very typical of the S&D on the Bath Extension and are formed from Milliput on an armature of styrene sheet to define the edges of the raised and fielded boulders that were used on the real thing.   Another feature of many of the S&D Bath Extension structures is the flat sections of wing wall at top and bottom that adds even more character.   There is a photo peering out of the Fosse Lane bridge showing one side of the down portal is brick and the other stone, which has led us to use brick for both sides of the newer up portal.

The structure was painted when the builder was not in Shepton Mallet and as a result is not quite brown enough – much more ‘basking in the sun’ than the viaduct is!  The cutting should have drystone walls at the base, so there is a need for some re-work after our appearance at the Bath & West exhibition.

Pecking Mill Viaduct

At the southern end of Evercreech New the decision was taken to model a bit of an oddity; this being the still extant but girderless Pecking Mill Viaduct. This was a five (or six) arch viaduct with a central wrought iron skewed girder span.

With the kind consent of the landowners a full survey was made of the surviving structure and immediate surroundings of the bridge.  Close inspection revealed that it had much in common with Prestleigh Viaduct with abundant brick repairs and with Flemish Bond in evidence on original work which is a bit of a thing on S&D bridges and viaducts, but unusual outside domestic architecture.

The Bath extension was constructed in single track and fairly soon afterwards doubled.  Examination of OS maps showed that the original side of the viaduct was the one with equal sized arches, with the widened side having different sized arches to better accommodate the skewed crossing of the road.  The clincher was finding the abutments for the original crossing at the end of the blind arch and that it was the five arch side that was wider than the six arch side.

An architect member drew up the bridge as it was (only on a very slight curve at the Evercreech New end), and then a civil engineer member adapted the structure to the required curve, and drawing on experience from the Prestleigh Viaduct carcass, produced the 2D CAD drawings for a 3 mm ply carcass that was cut by Hey Create in Bournemouth. Amazingly when assembled everything fitted!

Main Girder from Front

This is the 3D CAD design for the A371 arch.  Note that due to the skew the handrail arrangement is not symmetrical.  The walkway support at the far end that was hidden behind the abutment pier due to the skew has now been deleted.   Details have been taken from a clear shot looking along the top of the bridge along with suitable details from the only surviving girder rail bridge on the Bath extension in Radstock.

This was the farm bridge that was very close to Pecking Mill Viaduct on the Evercreech Junction end.  There is very little sign left on the ground of this bridge after it was almost entirely demolished.  We know that it was another heavily skewed girder crossing, but in the opposite direction to Pecking Mill Viaduct.  No detailed photographs exist of this bridge although it does feature in at least one video.  The only photo that we have seems to show that the girder was similar but shorter than the A371 crossing, and that is the assumption that has been made for the girder design.   The length of the girder crossing was estimated from a Stanier coach that was crossing in that photograph, and the length of the abutments (the base of which survives on one side) was measured from the ground at no less than 40′! Happily these dimensions seem to tie in with each other and the distance between abutments measured on the ground and the carcass was made from 9 mm ply with old-fashioned saw, plane and rasp.

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Oddly there was a much greater splay on the wing walls at the farm end of the bridge compared with the road end where the wing walls were barely splayed at all.  This appears to have been the case both before and after doubling.

Farm Bridge Outer

This is a 3D CAD of the farm bridge outer girder.  As before the arrangement of the handrail is not symmetrical due to the skew.  Again the walkway support at this end of the girder has now been deleted.

To hide the fiddle yard we are going to model the three arch pedestrian bridge that was just behind the banner repeater for Evercreech Junction station.  This started life with the single track running through the centre arch.  When the line was doubled the western arch was utilised for the second track and a retaining wall added on the widened side.

Retaining walls were something of a feature on this stretch of the S&D with low retaining walls also being provided at the base of the embankment in the immediate surroundings of Allen’s Bridge.

New Back scene boards

The countryside behind the station is exceedingly flat and Rob has produced these superb stiff and lightweight boards that will accommodate the original backscene on a nice curve.  The insulation will be carved to shape and built up where it transitions to the lumpier scenery needs at both ends to accommodate the two Viaducts.

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Original Control Panel

This is the really rather nice original control panel, consideration is also being given to a conventional lever frame with bar locking similar to The Summit.

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