This EM layout, by member Steve Smith, represents a fictional branch line serving the Wiltshire town of Mere from a junction with the LSWR main line to the east of Gillingham. In my alternative reality Mere having gained a railway has continued to thrive and warrants a stopping service to Salisbury with trains calling at Gillingham High Street, Semley, Tisbury, Dinton and Wilton. The presence of this service has resulted in the western region boundary being at Gillingham South rather than Wilton.
Mere is on the edge of Salisbury Plain and there remains plenty of military activity nearby. Originally funded by local businessmen and built on a modest scale; at the turn of the century Mere was remodelled to serve new military facilities nearby and gained a spacious new double-sided platform with separate engine release road with a spur to a military depot.
A real line to Mere would have been almost level with no engineering challenges at all, so it is surprising that the main line drops quickly as it leaves the station. As it does so it crosses a bridge over a tributary to the River Stour then over a level crossing and into a cutting with cess and then a tunnel. In contrast the military branch climbs on an embankment across a viaduct then bridge into the depot which will be above the fiddle yard that represents the rest of the world.
The station will be portrayed in a run down condition and will be in green and cream livery. As such it will cover steam through to early blue period BR. Reflecting a location close to the Plain the station situation is quite bleak with few buildings around it. The main platform is stone faced with brick edging. The military platform is corbelled brickwork similar to Salisbury. The station building is a copy of Verwood. A small goods shed and two sidings are provided for local goods traffic. The goods yard can be shunted with the goods train in the main platform without blocking passenger trains on the military platform or the main line.
The track is C&L representing 45′ panels and 3 bolt chairs on the running lines but 30′ panels and Exactoscale LSWR 3 bolt chairs in the sidings. Points are plastic sleepered and solvent glued utilising trimmed LSWR 3 bolt chairs for the check rails to represent the 4 bolts that should be present. 4 bolt bridge chairs on a timber balk have been used for the river bridge. The main line is concrete sleepered in 45′ panels with 2 bolt chairs. This sinuous section of the line with 3′ ruling radius is super elevated and anything with a long wheel base struggles without compensation or springing.
Points are switched using servos very often in pairs. A 15 lever Scalefour Society lever frame has been used operating micro switches. The scratchbuilt LSWR Type 1 signal box is a handed model of Chandlers Ford so that the steps face the station building. Signalling does not follow prototype practice as there are no facing point locks or operating ground signals. The distant signal is out of sight and fixed. The main signalling feature will be a three doll bracket signal controlling the bay platform and allowing trains on the miltary platform to go up to the military depot or down to Gillingham and Salisbury. The home signal will need an Odeon display to indicate which platform the train is destined for.
Mere Signalling Diagram
The line is considered to have the same weight restrictions as the Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway ruling out quite a few engine classes and limiting speeds of larger engines to 40mph. In steam days stock intended for my model of Verwood will be seen so T9s, a U class (Rebuilt River), West Countries, and BR class 4MT tender engines will haul variously a crimson 3LAV LSWR non-corridor set, a green Maunsell or Bulleid 3 set or perhaps a crimson and cream Mk1 3 coach set. In ‘modern’ times a green Hampshire unit or blue Crompton with 4TC or a Mk1 set may feature.
A lot of coal, some agricultural sundries including fertiliser, box vans and some lowmacs with military loads for the depot. Freight trains could be hauled by a Black Motor, Q, Q1 or N class or perhaps one of the passenger engines.