MELTON MOWBRAY (NORTH)
An N gauge model railway by JOHN SPENCE and STEVE WESTON
THE HISTORY OF THE LINE
Details of the track plan at the station were obtained from a little known 1974 publication, D.L.Franks’ “The Great Northern and London and North Western Joint Railway”. However, Steve had also found several maps of Melton Mowbray dating from the last century including an O.S. map from the 1930’s with representation of the buildings that surrounded the railway as well as the railway itself. He then enlarged the plan, section by section, to 2mm scale to find how big the layout would need to be. Clearly, the main focus had to be the station area, which included the goods yard, but the local cattle market, which lies adjacent to the line, was and still is a major feature of the town. Although the whole of the line through the town could not be included, even at this scale, the gently sweeping arc through the station area had to be the main focus. Using the enlarged map as a basis, Steve marked out the area to be covered and found that the scenic area would need to be about 30” deep and even then some of the features, such as the cattle market, would have to be foreshortened.
Also built as a joint venture, the model is run in two eras. The first is from 1948 to 1953, showing the line as it was with local passenger and freight traffic regularly passing through. However, we also imagine what things might have been like between 1957 and 1962 had the line come under the supervision of the Midland Region of British Railways following the Modernisation plan of 1955 and seen the dawn of the diesel age. In an attempt to revive usage, we imagine through trains were re-introduced from Northampton and Rugby to both Nottingham and Newark, the latter accessing the East Coast Main Line. The layout, like the line itself, was a joint venture.
The layout featured in Hornby Magazine (January 2012), in
Railway Modeller (September 2014) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the closure of the line and in BRM in September 2017.
To read a more detailed history and see photographs of the line as it was, follow the links on the Weblinks page.
The line through Melton Mowbray was a joint venture between the Great Northern and London and North Western Railway companies, opening for traffic in 1879. The Great Northern Railway built the northern part of the line, from junctions on the Nottingham to Grantham line, where one branch also ran north to their main line at Newark. The southern part of the line, from Market Harborough to Melton Mowbray was built by the LNWR, as an extension to their line from Rugby. In addition, there was a spur, some several miles south of Melton, to a terminus station at Leicester Belgrave Road. Traffic was diverse, coal and ironstone being the two major minerals conveyed by the railway, and, during the hunting season, the aristocracy would send their mounts and later arrive themselves at the rather grand station on the north of the town centre, very near to the cattle market which was also a major source of trade in the town. After WWII, as social conditions changed, the line gradually fell into decline and local passenger trains were terminated in 1953. However, during the summer months, excursions from Leicester to the east coast resorts, particularly Skegness, were a feature at the weekends. Freight traffic continued until the final closure in 1964. Sadly, little now remains of the railway and many people in the town don’t even realise that this line existed, assuming that the Midland line, from Leicester to Peterborough, was the only one and only.
In dereliction, winter 1970. Photo by Steve Goodrich
Photograph by Trevor Jones for Hornby Magazine