Selby Garden Railway
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History of the Selby Garden Railway
A fascination for model railways would ordinarily imply an interest in the full size railways industry but I have never been a railway enthusiast despite a railway career spanning more than a quarter of a century. I was 21 years of age when I began working for British Railways and discovered that locomotives had numbers on their sides which were highly prized by 'train spotters'.

I can barely recall the days of steam which makes the fact that I have such a fondness for steam locomotives all the more peculiar. I purchased my first model steam locomotive (a streamlined A4 named 'Seagull' depicted in LNER blue) in about 1982 when my local supermarket was a Hornby stockist. Over the next 18 years I collected more than 50 model steam locomotives but at no time did I ever own a model railway layout. My collection were confined to their boxes, being taken out on rare occasions for viewing. Sadly, due to the financial implications of a pending divorce my entire collection had to be sold in 2000 and I was left with only memories of what might have been.

It would be another five years before I regained any sense of stability in my life and as things finally settled down I was able to take an interest in model railways once again.

There are very few homes with the necessary space for a substantial model railway layout and where space is available it is often in the loft or garage, both of which can be suitable locations for a layout. However, my loft is totally unsuitable and doesn't even have the headroom to enable me to stand upright. My garage is more suitable but is also home to a fridge freezer, washing machine and tumble drier as well as a whole host of other items making free access to all corners extremely difficult. I didn't want to have to compromise on space. I wanted to be able to depict long rakes of coal wagons being hauled behind a class 9F 2-10-0 and to be able to watch it snaking along on its journey. I had read about OO gauge model railways being constructed in the garden and decided that it would offer me the space I yearned for as well as the challenge of regular maintenance that would help to sustain my interest and enthusiasm. It would also be an opportunity to partly landscape the garden which has previously been devoid of any plants.

Whilst an OO gauge model railway in the garden is perfectly feasible I believe it is best to keep things as simple as possible to ensure satisfactory operation. I decided from the outset that points would be used only if absolutely necessary and hence most of what I have planned is plain track without any pointwork. I'm not interested in shunting rolling stock so there really is no need for any points to be located in exposed areas of the garden. A future planned addition of a garden shed will mean that points can be included on indoor storage sections.

One architectural feature of the railway landscape which has always fascinated me are viaducts and from the outset I knew that I wanted to incorporate a viaduct of some kind into my model railway. The viaduct will form the focal point of my railway and hopefully by using plants of a suitable size it can be made to look as if it is located in a realistic setting. Again, as with all types of railway modelling outdoors, especially in the smaller scales, the challenge of construction and ongoing maintenance is something I look forward to.

I have spent many hours sitting in my back garden trying to visualise how my model railway would fit into and around my garden. I am sure it's always advisable to have detailed plans of what you are trying to accomplish but over the years I have found that it can be just as successful to make things up as you go along and even though I have a good idea in my head of what I am trying to achieve, I am constantly adjusting those ideas. So, in 2009 with a spell of very warm June weather I visited my local builders merchant and made a start on the Selby Garden Railway. You can follow my progress on this website where I will be publishing regular updates.

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