The layout started life as an industrial extension to Tewkesbury Quay – once the O gauge layout of the Orpington and District Model Railway Society.
From the start, the intention was to have a freight-only, single standard gauge line running through the middle of separate industrial scenes based on a brewery and a flour mill, both of which had narrow gauge systems serving them, together with a narrow gauge loco stabling area. The track plan includes sections of dual-gauge track. It was designed so that the brewery, flour mill, loco yard and the ‘main line’ (also known as the transshipment area, for exchanging traffic between standard and narrow gauge) could be operated separately.
A long time in gestation meant that some things moved on, Tewkesbury Quay was ‘retired’ and the Narrow Gauge layout became known as Theobald’s Yard. It was first exhibited with the flour mill and brewery baseboards only, linked to the end baseboard from Tewkesbury Quay, known as the ‘Old Station’, with a temporary fiddle yard at the other end.
Once buildings had been completed on the loco stabling area board, this was added, still with a temporary fiddle yard. It was then decided to build a small turntable fiddle yard for each end (on each for standard and narrow gauge – all on a four-foot long board!). It ran in this format at our club exhibition a good few years ago.
Now the layout has been extended again to form a continuous circuit. Two new scenic boards have been constructed, one with a gasometer and one with a factory-type building. An ingenious folding fiddle yard board with four, five foot sections has been built by our foreman. It has three tracks, each about 17 feet long, each of which will store a minimum of four trains. These are linked by a curved board at each end.
Loco control is by DCC, points are digitally controlled using the MERG CBUS system. The layout has its own Wi-Fi and can be operated with a smart phone or tablet devices as well as the wired controllers.