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Bury St. Edmunds Model Railway Club

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Issue Seven - 25th June 2020
Welcome to Issue 7 of this esteemed publication.

Here I am once again chained to my iMac in the kitchen and another fortnight has sped by.

We've got quite a big issue this time. I've received some great articles for publication from some of the members.

It would be really good if you could put a figurative pen to paper and email me an article or two on pretty much anything that you'd think would be of interest to the rest of the membership. It could just be about your previous jobs, what you've been up to during this lockdown. I'll leave it up to you.

Thank you to all those who've contributed. It is very much appreciated.


Bury St. Edmunds Model Railway Club Presents - Barry Norman

So said the cover of our exhibition guide in 1977. I had joined the club just over a year previously and my layout was to be exhibited for the first time at this show. Wyndlesham Cove was number 2 in the programme, which included just 17 stands, with 8 being layouts. The exhibition was held at the ‘Centra” a youth centre in the grounds of the West Suffolk College and we charged 25p admission unless you were an O.A.P. or under 12, in which case 10p. It was open from 10.30 am until 6.30pm on this Saturday at the end of October. (haven’t things changed.)

The exhibition lead to invitations to Norwich and Ely and a return visit to Bury, this time at the Athenaeum the following year. Braintree, Colchester, Chelmsford and Castle Headingham followed, but it was at Ongar in March 1981 that my future changed. Here I met Len Weal who was a local press photographer and he asked whether I would like to write an article for the Railway Modeller. By then we had moved to Northamptionshire and Len came across with his camera and I wrote an article and posted it off to East Devon. It appeared in the September issue of that year with a colour preview in August. I can’t deny that it had been an ambition of mine to have my layout as a ‘Railway of the Month’ and there it was – wow! But 1981 turned out to be an even more special year, as my Southern Railway, E.M. gauge model was unexpectedly awarded the ‘Railway Modeller Cup’ for that year, and it still sits proudly in our dinning room today.

So from a quite day in the then market town of Bury St. Edmunds my story had an unexpected journey. I continued to exhibit Wyndlesham Cove until 1984, and held it’s final exhibition at Warley, not at the NEC as it is today, but a smaller affair in Smethwick. And then there was the next layout……

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Fairy Rings a landscape feature - Ian Norman

For those who wish to model something a little different on their layout, might wish to consider modelling a fairy ring in an area of grass. These short notes should help any such minded modeller to get the details correct.

There are four different types commonly found in the UK. Known as type 1, 2, 3 and 4. In reality types 3 and 4 will only be noticed on fine turfed sports surfaces by expert turf managers. Type three only becomes visible for a few weeks in the autumn, while type four creates an arc depression in fine turf of only 1 to 2mm depth, so difficult to spot in real life, good luck modelling one of these.

However, the other two of these, namely Types I and 2, are visible to the untrained eye.

Type 1 Rings

Are distinguished by two rings of active grass growth, with a dead or drought-stressed ring of grass in between them. Yes, you did read right, I did say grass can be stressed. By active grass growth, this means the grass is growing faster than the surrounding grass. These features of the landscape are caused by Basidiomycete fungi, which do not directly kill the grass but feed off organic matter in the soil. There are some sixty different fungi in this group which are known to cause this type of Fairy ring.


The areas of increased grass growth are caused by the surplus nutrients released by the fungi stimulating grass growth. Whereas the dead ring is caused by the fungi releasing a protein into the soil, which has the effect of waterproofing the soil, thus making the soil hydrophobic. Therefore, this type of ring, tends to normally be seen on dryer sandy soils and/or in areas with low rainfall. This results in the grass dying, due to a lack of water.


Cross section through a Type 1 fairy Ring infection. Couch, H.B. 1995.Other fungi are rarely present as the Basidiomycete fungi release hydrogen cyanide in to the soil, as a defence against other fungi.


The size of these rings varies greatly but there are Type I rings measured 800m in diameter, with an estimated age of 1000–1200 years. What causes a ring to appear in the first place is not known and control is very difficult.


The only method with a reasonable chance of success is to physically dig out the ring and the infected soil. In practical terms this means as far as 1m either side of the visually affected turf and to a depth of 0.5m, without spilling any soil to prevent re-infection. Rings will, however, not grow in regularly cultivated soil, so regularly cultivated land is free from them.
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Typical Type 1 Ring
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Cross section through a Type 1 Ring
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Type 2 Rings
Differ from Type 1 rings in that they only have a single ring of stimulated growth with no dead area. When two rings meet they tend to kill each other out, rather than becoming interlocking rings. These rings can be found in a wide range of soil types, even being seen in the compacted clay type soils of cricket squares.

This is a brief account of these interesting fungi; my interest in them is as a specialist in sports turf management. As these fungi affect sports turf I become involved in their management and spent some time researching them in depth, while at Cranfield University.
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Typical Type 2 Ring above

Parish End - Mike Hamilton

“The processes (trials and tribulations) of building my N Gauge model railway, but we don't mention the expense. :-)

Parish End is a set of sidings, loco shed and line side industries in an un-named town in the industrial north west of Britain where the pigeons fly backwards to keep the muck out of their eyes and is served by the LMS Railway Company.

Just think muck, grime and decay and you'll get the picture.

The era modelled is 1930's to 1950’s, though Rule 1 shall apply as and when.”

So says the blurb on my Facebook page for the layout. If it’s on the Internet, it’s got to be true. :-)

An idea

Fast forward some 45 years from my first and short lived “ownership” of an N Gauge layout (see Issue 1 for that miserable saga) and Janice and I were now living together and making plans for our forthcoming marriage. We’d sort of fallen into the age old comfortable trap - get in from work, prepare dinner, eat dinner, wash up and crashing out in front of the TV and then heading off to bed and repeat ad infinitum. Janice decided that she was going to resurrect her hobby of knitting which she did and enjoyed in her youth / previous marriage. This left me with a bit of a conundrum, all my hobbies had been pretty extreme, they mostly had to take place out side and needed lots of planning and not the sort of thing you could do at a drop of a hat - rock climbing, mountaineering, hot air ballooning, archery and kite buggying on the beaches between Dunkirk and Calais and they were all weather dependant activities.

After a lot of thinking I hit upon the bright idea of doing an N Gauge layout seeing as I didn’t really have a look in on the one a I had when I was 11. Not that I’m bitter and twisted about that nor still for not having a Scalextric either.

I didn’t know anything about N Gauge, though thought it might have improved and become more popular over the interim decades.
I started doing some reading up on the internet and bought a few magazines and then ultimately went to the model railway show at Needham Market four years ago. I liked what I saw, spoke to lots of people and came away with loads of grandious ideas.

Janice and I then got married and not long after she asked how my model railway plans were going? They weren’t really. I’d cobbled together a track plan of sorts and that was about it. I decided to take the plunge. One afternoon I went over to Orwell Models / Coastal DCC and had a long chat with Kevin et al and came home with a ton of Code 80 Flexitrack, points, wire, and an ESU Ecos controller (I’m slightly dyslexic and found that the pictorial layout of the controller was a heck of a lot easier for me to manage rather than having to remember CV addresses etc. - “Set it up and forget it” said Kevin at Coastal DCC), a Farish LMS Jinty, a pile of DCC Concepts Cobalt IP Digital point motors and half a dozen wagons and a credit card bill equivalent to a small country’s national debt.

First steps

Soon after I got hold of some timber and made myself a baseboard 6’ x 2’ and started laying track, generally sticking to the plan. The layout I decided was to be called Parish End, which came to me totally out of the blue. I liked the sound of it and it didn’t sound too twee. I also wanted it to be modelled within an industrial townscape - dirty, grimy and neglected. Once the track was laid I attempted to wire it all up. After a few months struggling with poorly laid track, manky soldering, poor connections, loads of frustration and grief I gave it up as a bad job. In a fit of pique I ripped everything up salvaging what I could and restarted with an amended Hornby track plan I’d found. I started laying the track and found that I’d run out of space on the layout - not enough length to lay all the track on the plan and not enough room to extend the boards. Parish End 2 wasn’t looking too hopeful.

After some research and asking around I found that N Gauge points are considerably over scale as compared to their OO and real life counterparts. Therefore a 12' x 4' OO Gauge layout wouldn't scale down correctly to fit on a 6' x 2' board. I had a re-jig of the track and found that I wasn’t going to get anything like what I wanted on the board and as it sat wasn’t really useable either.

An alternative

I started looking at alternative track plans and decided that I’d do a “roundy roundy” with a few sidings. The layout I chose was for a 6’ x3’ board. I lifted all the track and points etc. once more. Chucked the damaged / beyond redemption stuff and bought some more new stuff as well as making another board up.
This time I took my time, Parish End 3 was going to be the one. I checked everything as I went along. All was good. I could run trains round and round, get them into sidings and out again. I made a start on doing a raised area at the back (a row of low relief houses sat beside road, which was supported by retaining walls. I’d bought a stack of Metcalfe kits and had slowly made a start building them. I was bitterly disappointed. I could get the kits made without any problems. I just couldn’t get them to look anything other than a cardboard kit. I found a supplier of wooden laser cut N Gauge buildings and bought a couple of houses to see how I got on with them. Brilliant. They went together well, painted up well and looked great and weren't too expensive either. I foisted the remaining Metcalfe kits onto Phil Basham and David Tunbridge. I subsequently bought a few more houses and got them built and I was still pleased. What I wasn’t pleased with was the layout being a “roundy roundy”. It was boring as anything just watching a couple of trains going round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round . . . Something had to be done. I was annoyed, frustrated, cross and had already spent a bundle on the layout(s) so far and hadn’t got an awful lot to show for it apart from a teetering mountain of receipts mainly due to buying by that stage 6 or 7 locos, about 25 wagons and half a dozen coaches.

A Phoenix arises

Time for action, a last ditch attempt was called for. I did a huge amount of research, copying track plans, amending them, ditching them, finding others until I eventually I got to a stage where I was happy with what I’d done.

A new set of boards were bought from Tim Horn, the layout board maker in Fakenham as my woodworking skills aren’t brilliant and I find doing woodwork literally a pain because of my manky hip. More on line buying and trips to model shops for yet more new track and points, rolls of wire, decent soldering iron and paints etc.

I made a start on Parish End 4 in May last year. It was going to be a 8’ x 3’ L-shaped layout. 8’ lof ayout and the 3' “L” being a small two lane fiddle yard concealed behind buildings. I didn’t need a larger fiddle yard as the majority of the loco movements were to be done within the scene itself. Everything went pretty much swimmingly. Track got laid and tested, more low relief buildings were purchased, more building kits bought, and some scratch built ones were made.

Coming forward to March of this year. The track was finally laid. Points were modified so that they didn’t rely on blade contact for conductivity and Janice had very kindly bought me a Fleischmann DCC turntable and controller for my last birthday, which was duly installed and worked well. A few more buildings had also been assembled but not planted.

Then the lockdown started. Janice started working from home and I felt I needed to keep out of her way whilst she was working. The layout was in my garden office, so I decided that whilst she was at work,I’d work on the layout for a couple of hours or so each day. Most of the scenics have been done. I’ve printed a few 3D buildings which I designed myself and the track has been weathered to a suitably filthy appearance.

All I need to do next is to make a start on putting down static grass and ground cover, practicing making some more wire armature trees, add detailing (people, post boxes, crates and barrels for the goods shed, grave stones, crates and factory yard junk . . . . . . . . . . . .

There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is a feint glimmer, and thankfully it’s not an oncoming train.

What next?

As and when Parish End 4 is completed (if a layout is ever completed), I’ve got planned in my mind a box file layout in N Gauge built to as high a standard as I can and as highly detailed as I can get it.

And, if and when we ever move to the Yorkshire Dales the layout I’ve promised myself will be in 009 as I’ve alway liked narrow gauge railways and the huge amount of artist license you can get away with.

If you’re interested, here’s a list of some of the stuff I use on Parish End:


  • ESU Ecos 50200 DCC controller
  • DCC Concepts Cobalt IP Digital point motors
  • DCC Concepts Alpha Panel Mimic Board
  • Tam Valley Frog Juicer
  • Tam Valley Reversing Loop Module
  • Fleischmann 9152C DCC turntable and controller
  • DCC Concepts Alpha Meter to measure voltage and amps used when layout is running
  • Dapol operational LMS Home Signal
  • C R Signals Yard Lights
Buildings etc.:

  • The buildings are a mixture of some kits, scratch built, kit bashed and the 3D resin printed buildings were designed and made by myself
  • Walthers factory kits (American N Gauge slightly out of scale, but seeing as they’re factories, it doesn’t matter),
  • In The Greenwood low relief and full laser cut houses, shops and pubs
  • Osborne Models laser cut Creamery
  • KS Laser Designs pavements (much better than my attempts)
  • Custom laser cut mill by a chap up in Thurso
  • Retaining walls laser cut based upon Metcalfe’s offerings made by the same chap up in Thurso
  • Graham Farish Scenecraft Loco shed, low relief workshop and Depot Mess Room and Toilet and water tower
  • Kestrel / Faller church
  • Street and building lights - Layouts4U
  • Private Siding gate scratch built and hooked up to a MERG servo controller
  • Stacks Image 1198
  • Stacks Image 1201
  • Stacks Image 1204
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  • Stacks Image 1210
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  • Stacks Image 1216
  • Stacks Image 1219
  • Stacks Image 1222
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Niki, Bernie, Gordon, and . . . . - Ian Bilbey

When I was a child a friend of the family used to take me to motor races.
He was a marshall - one of those people who waves the warning flags and so forth.
We went to race meetings big and small, at Brand Hatch, Silverstone and Snetterton.
For the Grand Prix we would arrive on the Thursday evening, and leave on the Sunday evening.

The most significant thing for me was that I was free of adult supervision from 8am to 6pm on each day.
The 1979 British Grand Prix was held at Silverstone, and I was nine years old. This was my second Grand Prix, and I had worked out the previous year the do's and don'ts of getting into the pits and paddock.

The do's were get there as early as possible, before the marshals were manning the gates, and find somewhere good to sit and stay there.

My childhood hero was Niki Lauda, and he was driving for the British Brabham team that year. The team was owned by Bernie Ecclestone, and it's chief designer was Gordon Murray - another hero.
I sat on a small breeze block wall all day on either the friday or saturday, which were practice and qualifying days.
Whenever Lauda's car was in the pits its righthand front wheel was no more than four feet from me. In those days the cars were always in the pit lane, only inside the garages when the sessions were over.
Gordon Murray would plug his ear phones into the side of Lauda's helmet and speak with him each time he came in, and Bernie Ecclestone would stand with a foot on the left front wheel trying to hear what was being said.

Not long after the morning session had started a man in what I would then - and now - call a 'Hawaiian shirt' sat down next to me and said hello. It was instantly apparent to me he was an American. He had quite long hair and a moustache.
We soon got into conversations about F1. He was knowledgable and friendly, and seemed to in some way be connected to the team as once in a while Bernie would stand next to him and chat.
When that session ended, he - the American - said something friendly and disappeared. I ate my sandwiches and waited for the afternoon session to start. The funniest thing I remember - and rather illustrating that if you stayed still and caused no bother you would be accepted - was that during the lunch time 'pits walkabout' the team put up small rope barriers, with me inside their cordon. So I become something for the paying public to gawp at along with the cars ...

Anyway, after lunch the chap came back, said hello again, stayed for the whole of qualifying, chatted with me and then disappeared again.
And I didn't see him again until that winter when he - and I - appeared on ITV television.

In those days F1 TV coverage was a bit patchy, some races on the BBC and some on ITV. Often on either 'Grandstand' or 'The World of Sport'.
I think this show was part of some Brian Moore sports show, and a few minutes in the camera was focused on Lauda and Murray talking through Lauda's helmet, with me and the chap next to me in the background, out of focus. I pointed myself out to my dad.
The next moment the camera focussed directly on me - or more accurately me and the American man sitting next to me.
My dad suddenly leant forward and said who's that ?

The answer came a second later as the film cut to him speaking. His name was George Harrison. He had been in a music group called the Beatles, and was from Liverpool. I only vaguely knew who the Beatles were, and thought Liverpool was a football team.
I later found out he was good friends with Gordon Murray. Which I would argue was the most interesting thing about him.
But he seemed a nice chap anyway.

I never saw him again, as my hero Niki Lauda retired that year, and I shifted my allegiance to a new favourite driver - Elio de Angelis - who drove for Lotus. So I sat in their pit from then on.
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In 1972 my Model Railway was packed away - Part 2 - Richard Hodgson

In Issue 4 of the Anorak I told how my railway had been packed away in 1972 and resurfaced when clearing my parent’s house, after almost 50 years I was planning to build another railway, this issue ended with me waiting for lockdown to end so I could build the baseboards.

We live across the road from Lawes of Bacton so ordered the wood to build the baseboards which they delivered once re-opened. I built 3 baseboards, (2 - 6ft x 2ft, 1 - 8ft x 2ft) I made these freestanding so I can move them with relative ease if/when we decide to downsize our house. I picked up the track (waiting for points) from Orwell Model Railways and have started building my railway. 
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2 of the 3 baseboards painted & primed
The plan for the railway had been in my mind since I was at school, I was lucky that our school library stocked Model Railway News each month as well as having bound copies of Railway Modeler from the 1954 to 1963 which I would read from cover to cover and envy the incredible model railways that appeared in these magazines, it was while reading these that I decided that I’d like to build a model branch line, not a Great Western as so many seemed to be, but to be based in my home county Cumbria with a London Midland influence during the end of steam and early diesel period. 

Packed away in with all my railway boxes since 1972 was a very tatty plan from Model Railway News I’d kept in my pocket and spent hours drooling over as a schoolboy. This was the plan I was going to build & base my new layout on.  The page number I could just read was 242 so took to the Internet to try & track down a copy of Model Railway News to see if there was any other information in the magazine about the layout that might help.  

I tracked the magazine down, it was from May 1968 & this was the layout that had grabbed my imagination as a schoolboy.

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The page from Model Railway News May 1968
I have made a few changes to the layout, I’m undecided about the turntable, the goods yard I’ve reduced from 3 sidings to 2 and the dairy will probably be replaced with a timber yard having been so impressed with the one on Cobbolds Wharf club layout.  

My old track I may use in the fiddle yard but for the main layout I’ve decided to go for Peco Code 75 Bullhead route for track & points, this is very delicate compared to my old track & the fish-plates are tiny.

Buildings I’m using a number of standard kits like the Ratio Midland signal box, the Wills stone goods shed but for the Station building and village houses going to attempt to scratch build these to ensure a local Cumbrian theme to the layout, I may be asking for some advice and guidance when I get to this part of the construction.  

With the electrics I am going down the DCC route and have built a number of different MERG kits and will be using their CBUS modules to run the railway.  


That I think wraps up Issue 7 of The Anorak. I hope you enjoyed the read?

Any comments, articles, hints and tips etc. would be much appreciated as I have now once more totally run out of material again to do another issue.

Please email me at

In the meantime keep well and keep safe.

Cheers for now,