Hall Royd Junction Box nameboard as preserved at the East Lancashire Raiway, Bury

Genesis of Hall Royd Junction: the model railway

Modelling the L&Y and its infrastructure is a great way to appreciate the engineering and design that made the L&YR a legend in its own lifetime. At this juncture it is difficult to appreciate the local pride that the ordinary citizen had in the enterprise - far more so maybe that we would now view our local bus company. My mother was a regular user of 'Altcar Bob' as a schoolgirl, and used to recall the hi-jinks that went on with her chums - especially if the trailer was attached.

But having built a fictional layout in the loft based somewhere on the Yorkshire side of the Pennines, the chipboard tops and dubious wiring finally bought about the demise of the layout in early 2012, which led to much pondering about what form the new set-up would take.

Stability and lightness of baseboards was top of the list, as I needed to be able to extract individual boards from the loft to be able to work on them. I'd also reached the conclusion that shunting wasn't doing anything for me, and that the new layout would be double track, offering good running potential with some form of train storage in the public areas. This was an ideal gleaned from the 'Model Railway Journal', where scenery is applied to the fiddle yard/staging, so becomes part of the 'public' area.

Although I've toyed with L&NWR-style layouts before due to the availability of various modelling bits and pieces, it didn't really sit very happily with the inner me. As a child, Crossens was my local station and the Southport-Preston line passed my school, just by Churchtown Station.

The first location I considered was Bury Loop Junction. Here the four tracks through Knowsley Steet joined the spur from the electric lines via Loco Junction and then funnelled down to two. A number of trains could be standing at signals awaiting access to the two-track section, so effectively moving the train storage into the visible part of the layout. Emphasis here on 'train' rather than wagons or coaches. I've always been 'worried' about complete trains with locos attached for long periods of time without any obvious reason, whereas standing on a goods loop by a water tank makes perfect sense.

I played with this location for some time, and then rejected it as being difficult to effectively re-created on 4' by 2' baseboard modules! Also to be factored in was that although there was a nice bridge and signal box cameo centre stage, there were no handy scenic breaks at either end.

I also sketched out a scheme of my local patch with Churchtown on one side sitting on its embankment with its wonderful wooden platforms and stairs on the Preston side, running round to Hesketh Park before disappearing under Roe Lane bridge.

It would have allowed me to incorporate my school (Churchtown primary) but there was no real potential for 'parking' trains in view. Mike Farrell has produced a limited-edition brass kit of the 502s for his Liverpool Exchange layout - being a member of the 502 group would help in this respect. I'd always fancied modelling a three-car set being towed to Horwich from Meols Cop for body overhauls. Local legend had it that the motor car was popped on a set of accommodation bogies, with the motor bogies being overhauled at Meols Cop, but I've never seen a photo of this very interesting operation.

I then doodled some ideas around the approach lines at Southport from the Manchester and Preston direction, with the Holland's Toffee Factory as a back drop (home of the much missed Penny Arrow bar!). The idea was that trains would be 'held' on the approaches to an off-stage Southport Chapel Street, and again 502s could figure. Chapel Street would be 'off-stage'. I was also a very active member of the old Steamport Southport museum (now Ribble Steam Railway), and had spent quite a bit of time at this location when relaying track (see Steamport Model Railway Club page).

Another idea played with was Cheetham Sidings in Manchester, with the carriage shed entrances modelled in half-relief and then the rest of the train actually in the storage siding area proper. Typically in the late afternoon there would be a crop of Black 5's and Jubilee's tied on ready for the canter to the coast, so a useful prototype.

I was still fashioning buildings for the old layout, and had been very taken with Geoff Taylor's models, particularly those of Todmorden, namely St Mary's Church and the Railway Hotel. Looking for a suitable set of buildings/shops led to me creating the row that run along Burnley Road, opposite the Town Hall, and ending just before the viaduct.

There is a family connection here, as my Great Grandfather and Grandfather owned an ironmonger's shop which is now part of estate agency Reed Raines (the Gas showroom that figures on the front cover of Roger Birch's latest Todmorden photo album - Volume 5: Shops). At the back of the shop, on the station approach road, my mother used to use the L&YR boundary stone as a table for her dolls. On a visit in 1972 the stone had sadly been removed.

So I did have a starting point of sorts. It may seem strange that having already completed a set of prototype buildings that Todmorden might have featured earlier in my thinking. As an aside, Geoff's two buildings of St. Mary's church and the Hotel would fit to the left and behind mine!

So my next set of doodles then turned to Todmorden. I envisaged a 'half' station - only modelling it from the centre eastwards, running out onto the viaduct, but with the need to 'double back' in the loft, putting Todmorden East Junction between the station and viaduct. This was quite a nice looking scheme, and could have been worked to allow the standing Copy Pit banking engines to be shown 'resting'. Operationally they'd have just moved through a hole in the backscene and then returned some time later.

This led me pondering what would run down the other side of the loft, beyond the viaduct.

You, dear reader, will have probably already jumped to the obvious conclusion.

But no, not me. There was at least another six months of doodling, mainly working around ideas utilising the Cheetham Hill sheds and sidings again. But as you do, one day I thought I should perhaps see what was actually beyond the viaduct - and discovered Hall Royd Junction.

Hall Royd is where the Burnley line curves in from Copy Pit and runs alongside the Normanton line for about quarter of a mile before merging into two tracks and disappearing into Millwood Tunnel. There was also a bonus piece of track in the form of the down goods loop that sat (sits) between the two sets of lines - facing Healey Mills - so giving three east-bound home signals that trains could stand at, and a water tank to boot, so justifying trains standing for periods of time. This loop is also permissive, allowing trains to be queued up in it. There's even a slightly odd arrangement in the middle of the loop where the Permanent Way sidings are connected to it, protected by a home signal on this piece of line which otherwise is outside absolute block regulations.

Having said that, there is a discussion on the Signal Study group forum which suggested that in certain circumstances passenger trains would be permitted to run via this loop. I have only seen two photos with anything on this loop - one a parcels train and the other a light engine (75048) that had brought a train to the engineering sidings inside the triangle.

The 1966 working timetable shows four east bound freight trains were put into the loop, and had a booked stop. Of these, three were 'overtaken' by Liverpool Exchange-York passenger trains worked (by then) Class 110 Calder Valley units. The first of the day - around 4.30 a.m. - stopped, but wasn't overtaken. There were a similar number of movements into the Up loop.

There is also a permissive goods loop on the Manchester side, which also has a siding entering it at its mid-point, and which is also protected by a home (bracket) signal. Even the back of my envelopes suggested that the curve on the model would be too tight for this loop, so for now it has been omitted.

Once I started roughing out the track plan, I was amazed at how 'layout-friendly' Hall Royd was:

> Tunnel at one end and a bridge the other, providing perfect scenic breaks

> Tracks peal off left and right at the western end, so facilitating a return loop for Phase 1

> The whole area can be contained almost to scale in three 4' x 2' baseboards

> All the points and three primary signals are all contained on the centre baseboard

> There are only five buildings required (signal box, Permanent Way hut, asbestos lamp hut, plus the old school above Millwood Tunnel and the concrete garages below the signal box) plus some sort of chicken/pigeon loft structures that change shape and number at roughly 10-yearly intervals.

> The scenery is 'modest', featuring mainly hillside, so a short time frame to complete

On the downside, a backdrop will probably be required to give a feel for the houses in the road above and parallel to the railway up the hillside. And fitting the points onto the centre board was going to be 'tight', but with some work with saw and soldering iron should see them fit.

So to test the ideas, I have made a model of the model as described by Barry Norman. This is a neat idea as it does allow the model to be viewed as a whole, and if all now fails, at least I do now have a model of Hall Royd!

I must mention the Internet, and in particular Google Earth and Google Streetview. The ability to zoom in with a correctly scaled Ariel shot, and then go check out the required view at street level greatly simplifies prototype modelling - especially for those angles which did not have significance during the site visit but become mission-critical having returned home. Also the photo resources are very useful, particularly on flicktr and geography.co.uk.

The L&YR photo library came up trumps - thanks Mike! Shots include the otherwise invisible gantry providing the signalling for Stansfield Hall; an excellent shot of Millwood Tunnel mouth, and crucially, the wonderful L&Y box at Hall Royd, both front and back.

I have always been keen on operation and signalling, and have always been very disappointed with P4 layouts that seem to have focused totally on track construction, and then ignored the role of trap points. My interest was stimulated by working on the Ffestiniog in the late 60's. This may seem strange as even then the FfR didn't have many (any?) fixed signals. But what was very apparent from Day 1 when I was handed the rule book to study was that nothing happened which wasn't detailed in the rule book.

I guess what the FfR taught me was the importance of signalling each movement, and especially so when there are no fixed signals, including being aware of which points are locked to facilitate the movement of loaded passenger vehicles. And single line safety and discipline is absolute.

I have so far failed to find a signal box diagram for Hall Royd. In its modern form, it still has two cross-overs and a diamond crossing, but back in the 60's - even then - it seems massively over-signalled. In fairness, the 60's were the end of the era, and by 1966 there were only three trains timetabled to use the down goods loop each day, so the signalling gives the clue to the volume of traffic and movements being carried out on a daily basis in earlier times.

But without the signal box diagram, some parts of the infrastructure become conjectural, and without any working timetables or photographs from yesteryear, it is difficult to determine the purpose of the all ground signals. The box controls a remarkable six ground signals nine discs in total.

What this would allow is a loco or train to proceed 'wrong line' from the up (Manchester) loop, and through the cross-over in front of the box. This facility then begs the question what the up loop was used for, as there is no corresponding disc for 'bang road' running on the main line should a loco be running round its train held in the loop.

Other conundrums concern the two 'wrong line' protecting the single slip connection to the Copy Pit line. This allows movement either to Copy Pit or wrong line towards Todmorden East, then, once over the slip, there are two more discs; one for entry into the permissive (down) goods loop, and one for the cross-over (if it had been me, I'd have mounted three discs together, rather than have two sets of two). The distance between the disc and the Hall Royd home/Eastwood Distant at the mouth of Millwood Tunnel suggests this was for single locos only. The rule book would allow for the reversal of a train here, but the outer home would have to be cleared, which means involving Eastwood Box in the process. As you will see later, the answer was indeed 'reversing movements', but not so much of locos, as of whole trains...

The reason for the interest is that I'd like to divert the Burnley Cravens unit 'due to engineering works' this way, as it could legitimately run from Stansfield Hall to Millwood Tunnel, and then the signalling allows it to reverse over the single slip and the cross-over to gain the up line which would then take it to the up platform at Todmorden, as normal.

The snag in the signalling is whether the single slip and cross-over have facing point locks (fpl). If they don't, the move can still be permitted if the points are manually clipped first. Incidentally, the lack of fpls would not be a problem for the reversal of empty coaching stock.

The final 'unknown' is the ground signal protecting the worked trap point for wrong line working off the Copy Pit line. There is only a single disc here, and given the location of the other discs, presume that the only movement permitted is through the single slip to the down (Eastwood) line

I have subsequently read - from two different sources - that passenger rakes were reversed around the triangle in both directions. One photo I have seen shows a 9F-hauled excursion for Southport leaving Newton Heath ecs (empty coaching stock) bound for Todmorden with the caption suggesting the entire 9-coach train would be reversed by a backing move along one side of the triangle; and in a separate reference was the suggestion that the Preston trains from and to Burnley when steam hauled, were also turned in a similar fashion. The one shot I have of a train in the Burnley bay shows a Fairburn tank pointing towards Burnley, and I must admit, I'd always assumed it had run over Copy Pit bunker first, but the simple 'reversing' move would mean the loco would run chimney-first in both directions.

I am assuming that in both scenarios, the train loco would always end-up standing outside the mouth of Millwood Tunnel, i.e. at the Todmorden-end of the rake. On this basis, the excursion rake would have first run to Stansfield Hall, and then reversed 'wrong line' (and hence the worked catch point in the Up Burnley) before reversing onto the Down Leeds line with the loco outside the tunnel mouth, before being signalled over the slip and the cross-over in front of the Signal Box by the pairs of ground signals.

The Preston train would arrive at Todmorden facing Manchester on the Up Main (there single slip for the bay not permitting direct entry to it). I am assuming this would have reversed either via the single slip leading to the bay, or the cross-over on the viaduct, along the Down Main towards Leeds, stopping again with the loco outside the tunnel, before heading off to Stansfield Hall, and then a reversal round the currently lifted third side of the triangle and into the bay from the down Main.

But Hall Royd has one other delight. There is the unique (?) gallows signal in the up direction at the mouth of Millwood Tunnel, which carries two home signals for the junction itself, plus distant arms worked by Todmorden East and Stansfield Hall. The closest Lanky structure I have found so far are the portal structures for the overhead electrification to Holcome Brook.

If there's anyone out there who knows for sure, please e-mail me.

But there is a slight mystery here, and the question is: did the gallows signal survive to the 1973 Preston area re-signalling? There are many photos taken from the road bridge at the western end of the site in the steam era. By the nature of the beast, many of these show clouds of smoke and steam billowing out of the tunnel and obscuring the signal. But those that do show the site of the signal pre-1968 fall into two groups: those in which the structure can be seen and those that the structure can't be seen, despite the fact that the outer down home and distant by the tunnel mouth are perfectly visible. The latest dated photo so far seen showing the gallows in place was taken on 28 August 1965 by E. F. Bentley.

In the gestation of the layout, it occurred to me that if the permissive goods loop was to be used as intended, then there would need to be an effective way of enabling trains to queue up in the loop, which seemed to be an obvious application for DCC. I was still hesitating, and decided the best route would be to lurk on eBay until some suitable low-cost gear appeared, and then try it out, knowing that if it didn't work as intended, it could jolly well go back on eBay.

In the end I found a Lentz Compact for £60. This does have some limitations, but does do what it says in the instructions. But there is one myth I can dispel - you do need more that two wires!

Two observations from Hall Royd. Because one needs to pull off the signals in the correct order: outer home, inner home; starter, the deployment of the accessory decoders needs some thought, and in the end I've arranged it so that Accessory Decoder 1 is for the down line; Decoder 3 is the up line; and Decoder 2 is split between both. That way the first signal in the sequence is 501, then 502 and so on down to Millwood Tunnel. But these signals are on three separate boards so we are back to having a series of multi-pin plugs to connect the appropriate signals to their dedicated accessory decoder.

Hall Royd was out of the limelight; rarely photographed and there are no books dedicated to the railway here. Yet it did have visits by at least two notables (ignoring 'Mallard' and the Midland Compound, or the various 'end of steam' specials racing for Copy Pit). In the summer of 1947 Teddy O'Shea has recounted how he was booked as a young fireman with Driver Len Yarwood to fire 6202, the Turbomotive, from Hebdon Bridge to Manchester's Moston sidings via Hall Royd on a freight working - the article is here - whilst in 1965 BR Standard 70000 'Britannia' worked its last revenue earning trip in BR service, a freight from Manchester to Tees Yard. Although not recorded, it is assumed that 'Britannia' would have 'come off' at Healey Mills and returned to Manchester with the balancing working. It did steam one more time in BR ownership, as it ran 'own wheels' and in steam from Newton Heath to Stratford in 1966, where it was subsequently vandalised and so looked over for inclusion in the national collection, but that is another story.