The great O-gauge resurgence

Pete Kelly visits a wonderful O-gauge establishment in Lincolnshire where locomotives, carriages, wagons and buildings are for sale, where superb accessories are cast and where a massive new layout is under way.

Recent developments in ready-to-run O-gauge locomotives and rolling stock suggest a resurgence in this noblest of the three most common UK modelling gauges, so as a fledgling modeller in OO and now N, I decided it was high time to discover more about the merits and attractions of O gauge.

My eyes were opened wide during a hastily arranged visit to the premises of O-gauge specialists the Wagon & Carriage Works near Heckington, Lincolnshire, and to say I wasn’t disappointed by what I found there would be a huge understatement!

Waiting to show me around was John Emerson, who worked on British Railway Modelling for 16½ years, becoming its editor, and now owns the wonderful Lynx Models range of O-gauge white metal castings comprising everything from platform canopy supports, luggage, postal sacks and weighing machines to motorcycle kits, animals and telephone boxes. John is also revered by enthusiasts for his demonstrations of weathering skills and the books he has written about creating layouts in O gauge.

John Emerson contemplates the formidable task ahead of completing the huge O-gauge layout ‘Brimscombe’ which will be based in Gloucestershire’s Golden Valley region.

His modelling friend Pete Marshall, who became a familiar face at specialist auctions as he bought stock for the Wagon & Carriage Works, owned no fewer than 100 locomotives in O gauge and Gauge 3, and had visions of a huge O-gauge layout. He and John duly got started on this and had just got running when, tragically, Pete suddenly passed away about five years ago.

Complex layout

Upon his passing, his widow Vanessa sold the bulk of the W&CW’s stock along with Pete’s locomotives, but kindly allowed John to continue the work on the layout in his friend’s memory. The result is a complex British Railways Western Region layout in the making, which John estimates could take 10 years to finish, but it might at least be running in a few months’ time.

Reflecting British Railways’ Western Region era, ‘Brimscombe’ will be based in the Golden Valley of Gloucestershire, and the ‘Cheltenham Spa Express’ will be a star working. Locomotives already gathered together cover most common GWR/WR classes and include a ‘Castle’ 4-6-0, two ‘Hall’ 4-6-0s, a couple of 2-6-2 Prairie tanks and of course various pannier tanks.

With more than 200ft of track to lay, along with yards and storage roads, working signals with lever frames for people to operate, and rough but accurately scaled cardboard representations of the buildings that will stand there, John has plenty to do, but when this vast layout is finally finished, it will be one of the best in the country.

For the full article, see the July edition of Modelling – available now!

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