Layouts we love – Gilly’s winning N-gauge ways!

Gilly North might have started her railway modelling later in life – but she soon made up for lost time! Here she tells her story.

In the Editorial of your June edition you invited female railway modellers to write of
their experiences.

I am Gilly North, a member of the West Sussex N Gauge Model Railway Club. My active railway modelling started quite late in life following our golden wedding anniversary trip in 2010 on a Great Rail Journeys trip on the Glacier Express.

My husband Peter was a modeller in the club (he is currently the chairman until December) and I often joined in with their activities. Following this trip I was inspired to try railway modelling in N scale.

Years of narrowboating in the Midlands gave Gilly the inspiration for ‘Staffordshire Potteries’, which visitors to the International N Gauge Show in Stuttgart liked so much they voted it best in show .

Our club specialises in modular layouts so I built a 4ft and 2ft 6in four-tier Alpine layout. There are three circuits at different levels, and a mock rack line climbing to the summit. The rock faces were formed of polystyrene foam obtained from an electrical appliance wholesaler, which I attacked with a kitchen blowlamp.

This nearly finished me off as I forgot about the fumes – another lesson learned! However the module worked out really well and even won the Club Cup at my first attempt and it has appeared at a number of exhibitions as part of the club’s modular layout.

I discovered that it was much heavier than the rest of the members’ modules and I am very grateful to them for helping me load and unload. Future ones would be lighter!

The club’s exhibition manager, Ian Redman, seemed quite impressed by my modelling, and in 2013 he invited me to make a modular reverse corner to be ready for Brighton Modelworld
(now no longer in being) in the following February.

When I accepted he delivered me the basic board and gave me carte blanche to build whatever I wished. After a lot of thought I decided to build a layout inspired by the Barry Island scrapyard. However, in order to do this I needed a vast number of broken or unwanted steam locomotives.

Gilly North receives her award at the Stuttgart show.

Club members – almost entirely male – came to my aid and by Christmas I had acquired 30 locomotives, 10 tenders and a considerable number of brake vans, broken track and points and a few buildings. Living in an area where sandpits abound, I decided to model the yard in a derelict sandpit.

I took masses of photos and constructed a sandpit to a method used by scenic modeller Tony Hill. This involved the usual system of criss-crossed card strips but covered in the blue paper found on garage forecourts, and the surface crafted from Artex – much better than Polyfilla as it sets slowly.

This was painted in many light shades of acrylic paint and even egg yolk to get the desired colouring and banding. I must have got it right as a visiting geologist at a subsequent exhibition told me that in his eyes it was perfect!

For the full article and more images, see the August edition of Modelling – available now!

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