Hall Royd Junction Signal Box Nameboard

Essays in 4mm scale card building  kits

Before I started building models of actual prototypes, I spent some time looking more critically at the various building kits available to see if they could be re-worked to meet my needs.

I built this to fill a space at the end of the layout, where I needed to hide the tracks curving sharply behind the structure. As the photos show, the rear of the building has been cut away to facilitate this.

I have always liked the Bilteezi building kits, originally drawn by Vacy-Ash before WW2, and these figured prominently on my layouts through the late 1960s. On a visit to the old Hamblings Model Shop in Cecil Court, just round the corner from the Wyndham Theatre in Leicester Square, London, a diorama using a number of the Bilteezi Cotswold warehouse sheets sat in the right-hand window for a number of years before the shop closed.

This seemed an easy way to create a large stine structure, and as this was a time before mobile - or even Smart - phones, I sketched the design on a piece of paper, and then went into the shop to buy the sheets. Hamblings was a bit of a throwback, with its own range of brass driving wheels for scratch builders, as well as a very extensive stock of litho (printed paper) sheets designed to be glued to a wooden former to build rolling stock. The Bilteezi range was a logical product extension, and I think they might have owed the range at that time.

The range is now produced by Freestone in Witney, although currently their Website is being re-worked and doesn't show the sheets.

This is a mirror image of the original Hamblings model. The dimensions are (approximately) 460mm x 240mm x 250mm (height).

Large warehouse constructed from Bilteezi Cotswold series sheets based on a Hambings diorama

Large warehouse constructed from Bilteezi Cotswold series sheets based on a Hambings diorama

Large warehouse constructed from Bilteezi Cotswold series sheets based on a Hambings diorama

It is hard to image in these days of digital photography that back in the day the only backscenes available were the set produced by PECO (tm). I was never a great fan of these, thinking that they were rather in the chocolate-box school of art.Then Townscene produced a series, which not only were f a length that would fit neatly along one side of the layout, but also offered variety in the form of buildings that could be stuck on the create foreground. One of the was for a Station Hotel, and it struck me that this could be reworked in low-relief. These sheets are also still available from Freestone in Witney.

Townscene Station Hotel reworked as a low-relief model

Townscene Station Hotel reworked as a low-relief model

Townscene Station Hotel reworked as a low-relief model

These two structures had given me some confidence, and to raise my game I started looking at using photographs I had taken to make, effectively, my own kits.

The photo below shows one of my early efforts in this direction. The prototype is in Todmorden, and I have used photographs to create the shop front and windows, mounted on a card base which in turn has been covered with Slater's embossed Plasticard. I used the Will's slate sheets, but as others have found, they are not designed to be butt jointed (the rows of slates do not run true), and you can quiet clearly see the joints. Worse, the sheets appear tp have bowed, despite being reinforced.

Todmorden Co-operative Society building in 4mm scale