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Although Steve has ad an interest in modelling for some years, his main experience of the model railway exhibition circuit was as John's fellow operator of several previous layouts.  Credit for the creation of Melton Mowbray (North) as a layout must go primarily to Steve whose model of the station building and platform area, in the form of a static diarama, inspired John to join Steve in the project.  Needless to say, Steve needed little encouragement and so the layout concept began.  It has taken almost ten yeas for the project to come to fruition as a fully functioning model railway, shown to the public in Melton Mowbray itself as well as at model railway exhibitons.  At these, members of the public have enquired about any previous layouts we may have built and are interested to learn of the connections to previous models;  hence this section.  All of these layouts have been exhibited at various shows around the country  since the mid 1980's and you may well remember seeing them at some point.

Photo by Alan Gibson as featured in Railway Modeller

Click on the following link to see the layout in action:


Exhibited between 1992 and 1997


This layout was the replacement which he exhibited between 1992 and 1997.  Based on the Settle to Carlisle line, the name and layout were an amalgam of elements of the line and places along its route.  This layout was seen at 32 shows during that five year period, was also credited with several awards and recognised by almost all who saw it as the S&C had been brought to public attention with threatened closure.  We have Michael Portillo to thank for persuading the then Prime Minister Mrs. Thatcher that she should not decimate the country’s railway network and, in particular, this wonderful line.


Dimensions: 18ft x 2ft 8ins divided into four baseboards.


The layout featured as Layout of the Month in Railway Modeller, February 1994.



Click on the following link to see the layout in action:


Exhibited between 1985 and 1992.

John’s interest in model railways goes back to the days of Hornby clockwork and Dublo sets.  However, the chance discovery of N gauge in the early 1970’s led to the development of his first attempts in this scale.  These were all discarded but in 1981 he began what became his fist exhibition layout City Central, a deliberately un-named location somewhere in the Midlands.


Having attended an exhibition in Nottingham’s ex-Victoria Baths in 1984 with his local club, he realised two things which were to have a bearing on his interest.  First, that there were very few N gauge layouts around at the time; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, that the quality of his own layout was as good, if not better, than what he saw.  Following a discussion with the event organiser, it was agreed that he would exhibit City Central the following year.  From that show in the autumn of 1985 the ball began to roll and he was subsequently invited to exhibit the layout at other venues.  This continued for seven years attending 31 shows over that period and winning several “Best in Show” awards in the process.  The initial shows attended were within reach of home and the first “away for the weekend” experience was to the N Gauge Society’s exhibition in Harrow.  This was the first purely N gauge exhibition held to celebrate the society’s 21st Anniversary and John has subsequently attended all of their anniversary shows, held every five years.


Dimensions: 12ft x 2ft 6ins, divided into three 4ft baseboards.


The layout featured as Layout of the Month in Railway Modeller, March 1988.

Photo by Phil Matthews as featured in Railway Modeller

Photo by Steve Flint courtest Railway Modeller

Click on the following link to see the layout in action:



Exhibited between 2002 and 2012


After selling Kirkby Mallersdale, there was a period of five years before I was ready to exhibit BW, and by the end of it I was more than eager to get on the road again.


Bishop Wearburn is set in County Durham, somewhere between Darlington and Durham.  As the original main line struck north through Penshaw (still a freight line) I have supposed that BW was originally a single-line branch off the main line, which by-passed Durham, but was doubled when the diversion was laid.  The original branch continues into the Pennines towards Crook whilst the main line forges north to the cathedral city. Travelling from right to left as viewed from the front, the line crosses the River Wear adjacent to a late-medieval road-bridge.  Standing next to this is a large Victorian warehouse, now storage for a local brewery, and nearby workers cottages.  Across the river, the land that rises on the south side of the river features inter-war housing and terraces of the Victorian period, with adjacent allotments.  As the line approaches the station there is a goods yard featuring a shed, cattle docks and raised coal drops typical of the North Eastern region.  Similarly, the station features staggered platforms, the down line housing the main buildings and a footbridge connecting to the up, island platform; from this the branch can be accessed.  Continuing south, the branch rises gradually between the main line and exchange sidings overlooked by a church and graveyard, the Rectory, a farmhouse and associated buildings.  From the sidings, a head-shunt extends north, and access to a turntable can also be obtained.  In the early days, much freight (particularly livestock) was handled and the turntable was installed to facilitate larger engines from both Gateshead and Darlington sheds.  There is also a single road engine shed to service the branch locomotives.


Dimensions: 24ft x 2ft 8ins, divided into five 4ft baseboards and two 2ft x 2ft 8ins endboards.


The layout featured as Layout of the Month in Railway Modeller, October 2004 and in Hornby Magazine, October 2008.


Occasionally exhibited from mid 1990's to 2019


After two rather large layouts John wanted something compact which would sit comfortably in the study/spare room and provide something he could play with at home.  He also wanted to explore the possibilities of a small layout and terms of both the construction and the interest level of a simple track layout.  For the first of these two requirements, a baseboard of no larger than 4' x 2' was in order yet he did not want to include the 180° curves, necessary to hide storage sidings behind the back-scene, into the scenic part of the layout.  The solution was to place these curves on two hinged, semi-circular boards at each side of the layout that would have a permanent electrical link to the main board.  These are held in upright position by latch hooks and can quite easily be dropped down whenever he wanted to run trains.  He also wanted to have a rear storage yard, albeit only holding four short trains, which could not be seen from the front but could be viewed by the operator who would work form the viewing side of the layout.  What he ended up with was a type of working diorama with built in panel for front operation.  From these requirements the layout evolved and despite the size took several years to complete, mainly due to the increasingly limited time I was able to devote to the project.  Although not intended for exhibition, this provides an example for those who claim they have no room for a layout at home!


One of the problems within this hobby is where and when to set a layout.  He had always been a bit of a purist, preferring a particular place and time and never too fond of layouts where anything and everything are run.  Originally used to run a large collection of ex-LMS stock and called Stanburn, the advent of excellent r-t-r by Dapol led to “Westernisation” of layout setting, buildings and stock. Although not originally intended for exhibition, this provides an example for those who claim they have no room for a layout at home!


Dimensions:  As described in the text.


The layout featured as Plan of the Month in Railway Modeller, May 2008.

Photo by Steve Flint courtesy Railway Modeller

Click on the following link to see the layout in action:



You can see other clips taken at various exhibitions

by simply typing in BISHOP WEARBURN into YouTube

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