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The Model

I had already built two previous 3mm scale mod­els, which were both fictional, and went to many exhibitions in the North West. I really wanted to build a model of a real location, so my thoughts went to Allhallows and I started work on it in late 2005. It was designed to be an exhibition lay­out, 25ft long by 2ft wide. It really received the kick start it needed, when I was showing some members of my model railway club (in Leyland) pictures of the station and the beautiful four-arm signal gantry that stood outside. Tony Bates, one of the members told me that he would build the signal gantry, if would I build the layout.

It was first planned to be portable, some 24ft long and in 4ft sections to fit in my car and go to exhibitions. But a major change in my circum­stances involved a house move and I now have a dedicated model railway room where Allhal­lows is set up as a permanent layout. A large amount of research was necessary even for a small branch like Allhallows. I was fortunate to have in my possession the BR track diagrams, which gave lengths of platforms, sidings etc and the BR signal diagrams, which also showed the interlocking.

So the first job was building the baseboards, using my usual method: 3x1 inch wood frames and a top of 7mm ply. On top of the plywood I use half-inch wood fibre insulation board for the track base. This in the case of Allhallows was very suitable as the line itself ran on a 3ft high embankment across the marsh from Stoke Junction almost as far as Allhallows station.

Next was the track. In 3mm scale this means making it yourself. I used printed-circuit board (PCB) sleepers and soldered the bullhead rail to them. This of course is quite time consum­ing, especially the pointwork. I drew the track plan straight onto the baseboard for plain track, but set out the points on thick paper. The PCB sleepers were fixed to the paper or fibre board with PVA adhesive. Once the track was laid and tested, I could start work on the structures.

Information of the structures came next. I bought the two essential books for the line — Mitchell and Smith’s Branch Line to Allhallows, published by Middleton Press, and The Hundred of Hoo Railway by Brian Hart (Wild Swan Pub­lications). Research did not end there; I also trawled through all my railway books and mag­azines, seeking out photographs of Allhallows and Stoke Junction. I also searched the Internet and found a few photos there as well.

I found that I had to be careful with some arti­cles, especially in magazines. One in particular, in a popular railway magazine, had an article on the branch with one of the photos showing a C class on a rake of Mkl coaches in a weed- covered yard with many sidings, saying that it was Allhallows, although anyone who knew the branch would know that it was not.

There is an excellent 1956 track and struc­ture location plan in Brian Hart’s book, which was very useful indeed. I built the platform at Allhallows out of balsa wood with the SR con­crete sides being resin castings from 3SMR (www.3smr.co.uk). The long canopy was con­structed from Plastruct items. The station buildings and platform signal box made out of card. I worked out the sizes from the photo­graphs and the station plan.

The only concession I made to the model in respect of the original, was the length of the platform at Allhallows. Due to space restriction and the overall look, I had to shorten the plat­form to about half of its real length. Surprising­ly, in model form it looks right. I was fortunate with the turntable, as the PECO model for 3mm scale is the exact same size and very nearly the same type as Allhallows. The goods shed at Allhallows was an ugly affair, never used and demolished in 1951. The platelayers' huts are resin models of the one at Allhallows by Unit Models (www.unitmodels.com)

The large public house behind the station build­ing still stands and as far as I know is still trad­ing. I was therefore able to photo this from all angles and get decent measurements. The biggest problem was finding out what colour it was painted in the 1950s when it was a Charrington’s pub. The Internet was no help but through a 3mm colleague, I was eventually able to get information from a friend of his who had worked for Charrington’s brewery.

Stoke Junction was a bit more difficult. Not many photographs exist and none of the front of the station house. Indistinct views of the track- side of the house and a ground shape on a map was what I had to use. I had my own photos of the signal box and the platform was a standard SR concrete one. I made all the buildings and platform out of card. The platform at Stoke was only long enough to take a two-coach train, so I was able to make this the correct length.

Beyond Stoke Junction on the Hoo Junction side stands an upright freezer, which is not to be moved! So Just beyond the station, li have had to build scenic break in the shape of a yellow brick overbridge, of which there are a few on the line, but not near Stoke Junction. Beyond this lies the fiddle yard in the shape of a seven-road traverser. On the other side of Stoke Junction, the line going forward to Grain also has to end abruptly where it reaches the outside wall. I have just enough room put the outer home and inner home signals.