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Recreating Brookmans Park station circa 1950

Scale model being built by retired train driver

Brookmans Park Station in the 1950s  Image by B.H. Warne, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
Brookmans Park Station in the 1950s
Image by B.H. Warne, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
A detailed model of Brookmans Park station in the 1950s is being built in an old milking parlour on a farm deep in the English countryside. The 53ft scenic OO-scale model will replicate the route between Hawkshead Bridge and Marshmoor Bridge in Welham Green.

The man behind the project, David N, a retired railwayman, contacted our history site, The North Mymms History Project (NMHP), to find out whether we had any old images of Brookmans Park station which could be used to help him make an accurate scale replica of the station.

Mike Allen from Welham Green, one of the team behind the NMHP and the man responsible for the Images of North Mymms collection, dug into the archives and found 70 photographs of the station, track, rolling stock, and surrounding countryside and sent them to David.

The Flying Scotsman steaming north through Brookmans Park -  31 August 1969  Image by Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
The Flying Scotsman steaming north through Brookmans Park -  31 August 1969
Image by Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
David was born in his grandparents’ house next to a level crossing in East Anglia, and although he was brought up in the West Midlands, he was an avid trainspotter on the East Coast main line in the days of steam.

At the age of six David was on the platform at St Neots station when he saw a Gresley A4 Pacific locomotive - a sister engine to the record-breaking Mallard - thunder through at more than 80 miles per hour.

This sparked a life-long interest in the London North Eastern Railway (LNER), and A4 locomotives in particular.

When he left school at 15, he went to work on the London Midland Scotland (LMS) western railway, where he was a fireman - a stoker for steam locomotives - until the last days of steam in the region. 

Later David moved to the London area and drove the powerful Deltic diesel locomotives travelling between London Kings Cross and Leeds or Newcastle upon Tyne.

David chose to model Brookmans Park because he says the station, signalling and trackwork are relatively uncomplicated, “with a pleasing mix of surrounding countryside and housing, and a wide variety of locos and rolling stock passed through it every day during the period I aim to replicate”.

He became familiar with the area when he was working the lines north from Kings Cross, and identified it as “an ideal spot for a trainspotter to sit on a sunny embankment, watching his favourite types of railway engine pass through”. This is the feeling he says he aims to recreate with his model.

David says he has almost finished the planning. The next stage is to build the baseboards on which his model will sit.

He will need help with the engineering required to lay and connect the track, and that will have to wait until after the coronavirus lockdown.

He says the route will be condensed, because, if it were to be built true to scale it would be more than 115 ft long in OO gauge, which is 4mm to the foot. The station, its buildings and surroundings will be true scale size.

The scenery will include the edges of the fields and sections of woodland alongside the track, and the gardens and backs of the houses that looked out over the railway near Brookmans Park station.

A4 4496 ‘Dwight D Eisenhower’ passing through Brookmans Park station 1946 Image from Colin Turner / Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
A4 4496 ‘Dwight D Eisenhower’ passing through Brookmans Park station 1946
Image from Colin Turner / Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
David says he plans to run a mix of freight and passenger trains, both express and suburban.

He will have a wide selection of both steam and diesel locomotives, including A3s, A4s and Deltics, customised so that they bear different names, numbers, and liveries. There will be a variety of rolling stock including Pullman cars.

The model in being built in the old milking parlour at David’s farm. The parlour is 65ft long. He says the trackwork for the scenic part of the model (between the two bridges) will extend for around 53 feet along one side of the building, with the other side and the ends devoted to storage, shunting, and a turntable, so that the locomotives and the trains that pass through the station are ever-changing, rather than just the same few going round and round repeatedly.

David says the track can be used either as “out and back” or as a continuous circuit.  The circuit is useful for the type of freight train that would always be empty going in one direction, and full in the opposite direction.
“A circuit enables me to use just two sets of coal wagons, for instance.  A set of empty wagons would go round in a clockwise direction – so always going north through Brookmans Park – and a full set  would go around anticlockwise, so they are always coming south.  The locomotives pulling the wagons will be changed off-scene to provide variety.”
He explained there will also be “a reversing loop”, which will enable whole trains of carriages or wagons that aren’t visibly either empty or loaded to go north, then turn around and return south, facing in the right direction, at a later time.

David's model of A2/3, "Owen Tudor", which will feature in the display The real-life version regularly ran through Brookmans Park
David's model of A2/3, "Owen Tudor", which will feature in the display
The real-life version regularly ran through Brookmans Park
Owen Tudor at the north end of the Welwyn tunnels heading southbound  Image copyright David Christie, used here with permission
Owen Tudor at the north end of the Welwyn tunnels heading southbound
Image copyright David Christie, used here with permission
The turntable will be in the off-scene engine storage area, so that locos can be parked in separate sidings until required. Many sidings radiate from the turntable. In this way, the onlooker won’t see the same engine - recognised by name/number as well as class/livery - go through Brookmans Park more than once for some time.

A plan of David’s project is embedded below.




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