The club’s Thomas layout came about from a realisation that the “look but don’t touch” policy understandably applied at public model railway shows is a source of frustration to children who are brought along, willingly or otherwise, by their parents. These youngsters are potentially the next generation of railway modellers, and the opportunity to plant the seed of interest shouldn’t be missed. The layout also acts as the club’s ambassador at model railway shows, pending the completion of our two “grown-up” layouts.
The 00 gauge layout was built by Geoff Trenholme, a keen modeller with interests in both railways and aircraft. Unfortunately for the club Geoff, now retired, has now moved to Dorset to be nearer to his family.
Geoff has given the layout the full scenic treatment, unlike many based on the Thomas theme. It includes a lake with Silverfox Island featuring a working lighthouse, an elevated roadway that crosses the tracks, and a fully detailed scout campsite. A station, in charge of the Fat Controller, allows trains to provide a passenger service. There is also a fox hidden somewhere!
Operationally, the layout has two parallel oval circuits, each controlled independently by Bachmann DCC EZ-Control and Companion units positioned at the front corners of the baseboard, so that two drivers can operate Thomas and his Friends at the same time, supervised by club members.
Drivers can choose from a selection of engines – there is (of course) Thomas, as well as James, Toby the Tram, and Diesel. Others are likely to join them in future. The supporting cast includes the coaches Annie & Clarabelle and, off the tracks, Byron the Bulldozer, Captain the Lifeboat and Harold the Helicopter.
In order that the layout is easy to transport and set up at shows, Geoff has ingeniously made it so that the baseboard folds over on itself, requiring no electrical connections other than to plug in the two controllers. To complement this, another club member Graham Sturman, has built a one-piece folding table unit on which the layout stands.
The layout has already visited a number of local club exhibitions and continues to get invitations, some for repeat appearances. It also may be seen at our own club show each year, usually held in mid-August.