Back in 2013 with new members arriving at YMRG and most of them being OO modellers the club agreed to build a ‘OO’ gauge layout; this would be our third attempt as a club at a ‘OO’ layout. The first two attempts stalled when members behind them moved away and the momentum just didn’t continue. We wanted to continue the standard of our exhibition layouts. These are ‘South Junction’, our 4mm EM layout that still features in magazines and is asked to exhibitions – not bad for a layout over 30 years old; and our new 7mm layout ‘The Summit’ which is just starting its exhibition life with one trip to Guildex Telford last year and visits to Railex Taunton and Warley later this year.
A couple of our members, Dave and Keith, had played around with an idea for a replacement 4mm layout before we settled on ‘The Summit’ in 7mm. The idea for the layout was not so much a location as how could we construct an exhibition layout that had scenery 360 degrees around it and the two of them came up with an overlapping figure of eight with two separate fiddle yards for each direction. We already run both our round and around layouts as two separate layouts with the fiddle yard being split in two. It made perfect sense to actually move them apart and hide under the scenery.
When the thought of a new layout came back out both members brought back the original thoughts so it was just a case of choosing a location to give us an idea of how we could develop the idea further. We had to find somewhere where any of the members could run their stock and it wouldn’t look to out of place which was always going to be the problem as with all clubs we have a very wide range of eras and regions within the club.
Location 1 Hemerdon Bank, Devon
The 4th steepest main line bank in the UK with passing loops in both direction would give us the gradient to get us over the point where the figure of eight crosses over and with the passing loops it would give us a bit of variation with running. If we kept the layout loosely based most members could run any of their stock on it. For a long time the layout planning followed this as a point of reference.
Location 2 Hatton Bank, Warwickshire
This location was looked at because being in the middle of the country we wouldn’t have to be quite so loosely based and we should get away with most of our members stock. However, with just the one loop on the up gradient we would have a slightly less operating available to us.
So at this point the planning continued with how to get the two fiddle yards on the level so stock doesn’t run away but we seemed to be getting there using “Trax” and then “Scarm” software to plan the layout and show the gradients.
Then one of our members who will not remain nameless, Simon, came in to the clubhouse with the idea of a flying junction like Cogload Junction, handy as it is just up the road at Taunton or Battledown Flyover (Worting Junction) on the SR West of England line, again not too far away. About the same time as this was going on there was a Supplement in Model Rail which described Battledown it as an ambitious plan/inspiration for a large crowd pulling layout. Well YMRG like to accept a challenge and after discounting Battledown due to the 3rd rail electrics not being required, Cogload was next to go as a new thought had arrived.
Location 3 Ayhno Junction, Northamptonshire.
This gives us all that we are looking for, a gradient to hide the crossover, middle of the country so you can get away with a lot of different stock, a freight passing loop to give us operational options, and now a junction and bridge so the plan was hatched.