Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Clun Valley Tramway

Over the year many modelers have been attracted by the idea of a light railway running westwards from Ludlow across the beautiful landscape of the Welsh borders towards Bringewood Chase, and Clun.

Geoff's recent posts on the village end of Llangunllo reminded me of Iain Rice's plan  based on Clun, and his Bringewood Chase layout.

Many year before though, in 1969, the RM featured another layout based on the area, J.E. Tennant's Clun Valley Tramway.

By today's standards this was crude OOn3 modelling with hacked about Triang Jinty chassis under most of the locos, but some of the buildings had real character. More to the point there was something very believable about the track plan and the way stock was distributed around the yard. This one photo "Redlake drifts slowly down the yard at Hopton Heath on a summer afternoon" sums up the sort of atmosphere I've always wanted to create one day.

Of course in those days I didn't know anything about the Irish narrow gauge lines that provided the prototypes for the models. After all I was only six at the time.


  1. This was a great influence on me, too, James. I think for all the reasons you give...it was crude in some ways, yet it had it's own atmosphere and I was captivated. The other similar classics for me were D. E. Lloyd's Augher Valley, unashamed Irish NG...(April '64 Railway Modeller) and a funny little line called the Kildoon Valley in the Nov '62 Railway Modeller. Aside from the Master (PDH) these systems had something of the magic about them. Even now, I still think of the photo on p 251 of the Kildoon Valley and it inspires me. Yes, don't worry, I'm getting help :-) It's so lovely to see that others have been inspired by J. E. Tennant's classic. I think it also shows that when we do something with love and enthusiasm, it shows through, no matter that the materials at hand or the skills at disposal were not olympian in scale!

  2. Iain,

    I've not come across the Kilddon Valley. David Mander's Stronalacher is another line I loved, with some very attractive photographic viewpoints. At some point I've no doubt I'll return to being predominantly a narrow gauge modeller,.

  3. Hi James, I loved the Stronalacher as well, although I lost the RM with it in...do you know the issue? I will try and get permission from Peco to feature the photos of Kildoon on my blog for you. I think I am probably an NG modeller at heart too...on the eve of my English A level, I stayed up all night working on an 00n3 loco depot while my parents thought I was in my bedroom studying :-). I passed by sheer good fortune, or perhaps my results were mixed up with someone elses!

  4. Iain,

    Sadly all my old RMs (strictly speaking all my father's old RMs) went missing in a house move. I had to buy this one off ebay. So the only pictures of Stronalacher I have are in the article from "Model & Miniature Railways". I spent revision time during my finals building a Brian Clarke Simplex.

  5. Haha! Glad to know I wasn't on my own with revision :-) The articles are July and September 1970 RM...I have just bought them...again! I gave most of my collection away to the WHR and now I keep wanting to read them again.

  6. Can I be controversial and say that I think it's EASIER to produce fine, atmospheric modelling like this when you are working with crude standards. Today's obesession with perfect detailing and difficult to match RTR models makes people concentraite too much on tiny details and miss the big picture. I look at layouts like this and see something akin to impressionistic painting rather than a photograph. Look at the Madder Valley - loads of atmosphere that I think would be lost if the standards varied accross the model and we too perfect. It's that atmosphere that makes the miniature world look (to me) like photos I've seen of the real world at that time.

  7. Phil, Definitely controversial, and definitely half right.. . which also means half wrong.

    First of all, I don't think the CVT would look half as good if subjected to modern photography. The graininess, the muddy tones all add to the impressionistic effect. As it is the very crude elements, like the Superquick engine shed, stick out like several sore thumbs.

    A lot of finescale layouts can look rather too neat and tidy. You come across layouts occasionally where even the dirt has been modeled neatly. Is that the result of modelling to finescale standards, or simply the lack of an artistic eye? Usually, I suspect, the latter.

    I do think though there is something to be said for modelling what the eye perceives. That means knowing when the eye expects to see something to scale, but also perhaps when detail needs to be exaggerated or toned down. Things like windows, tiles, wire, chain, point rodding can all look wrong sometimes if modeled to scale. I think context matters though, Take brickwork. Sometimes Wills sheet can appear to have fart too much relief, and sometimes flat brickpaper looks...flat. Yet on another layout, or even another location on the same layout they can both look just right.

  8. I too was inspired by the 'Clun Valley Tramway' by J E Tennant. As well as the overall atmosphere, I was particularly intrigued by the various 'extention railways' and the 2-foot gauge feeder line. It was the whole idea of a railway network and feeders that got me. So much so that years later I explored the Clun valley area just to see where the CVT might have ran. I then discovered various local REAL railways, such as the Kerry Estate Tramway which has inspired my own modelling and prototype interest for years. Funny how reading an article as a kid can live with you for a lifetime!

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