North Lane Works
This page carries the title 'The SMT Years due to the fact that both the layouts appeared in the Chris Ellis publications Scale Model Trains and Model Trains International; the first being NLW which appeared in SMT in September 1994. NLW was pivotal in several ways: firstly it was the first article that I had published in a national magazine (as opposed to society journals) but more than that it was the first that was designed specifically with exhibitions in mind. Built initially for a bet - to prove that a simple O gauge piece could be built for under £200 and in a sub-8 feet length. It was an interesting project; one that I learnt a lot from, would repeat, and would recommend for those dipping a toe into a new scale. It gained a lot of interest and there was a threat of it being used in the Gauge O Guild's 'Small Layouts' book Vol 2, which didn't happen. Being a two point 'inglenook' it fitted the SMT brief perfectly. I passed the layout on to a young club-member after it had been exhibited several times.
My short foray into American HO. Built in 1995/6 in the period between wife 1 and wife 2 it was built to see if I liked American modelling. 9 feet long by 10 inches it was the perfect 'shelf switcher'. It was exhibited several times in the South East but then ran out of steam and languished on the wall in my last home; which was it's downfall - I didn't have a spare wall 9 feet long so could only use the 7'6"scenic section. I used it as a photo-backdrop for quite a while, but in the end broke it up for parts. It was however the first of the 'standard boards'. i.e. the now standard length of 43/45" that I know will fit in just about any car and which I find a little easier to shift than something 4' long. Also the first of the 'My Fair Lady' punned names. It appeared in a few MTIs - the main article from which these photos are scanned is in No 19.
Top pair of photos - Chris Ellis
The full 9 feet of Einsford Mill at the old (Thornhill) Southampton show. This was the day that I left the stock in the hallway. Luckily Stig was on hand with 'some that I want to run'. He saved the day.
photo- David Barker
Both the above layouts were underpinned by what came to be known as 'the North Lane Works trestles'. Basically the Iain Rice 'Ulysses' design of trestles and stretchers. These supported all further layouts up to and including Wood End after which they were deemed to be far too bulky and I changed to the small table-top 'lifter' for Garn.