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Castlefin, or Castlefinn, depending on which side of the platform you stood, was a station on the County Donegal system.  It was originally part of the Finn Valley line, a 5'3'' gauge branch from Strabane to Stranorlar opened in 1864.  In 1882 the West Donegal was opened to 3ft gauge between Stranorlar and Druminin (a shortage of cash meant that it didn't reach Donegal Town until 1889).  The Finn Valley line was converted to narrow gauge and reopened in 1894 (it had been extended to Derry by 1900). Major Marindin was the inspector for the new line - in 1893 he sat at the enquiry into the Camp disaster on the Tralee and Dingle, so it's good to know he knew both lines we have modelled!  As it was just over the 'border' in Donegal, it spent its later years as a customs checking point, passenger trains having to stop here for searching, goods needing to be left for thorough inspection, or a quick glance if part of a mixed train!  As it had been converted from Irish standard gauge, spacing of the loops was quite generous.  As a taster, the pictures below show the station in the 1950's.  The colour pics may take a moment to download and are from the Colourpoint books by Robert Rowbotham, 'The Last Years of the Wee Donegal' and 'The Wee Donegal Revisited'..

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Progress has moved on somewhat from the pictures above.  The fiddle yard board has been constructed and track is being laid.  This is Peco code 75 flexible track and points to save time.  The front boards are made and the track plan drawn up - one point is made and fitted, another on its way.  The 'scenic' track will be the same as on Dingle - Peco code 60 rail laid on plywood sleepers.  The aim is to run this layout using DCC although we are still to be entirely convinced about using this with live chassis and wholly metal locos!  The station site was visited by three of our members a few years ago and they took measurements of the station buildings that survive.  As a result cardboard mock ups have been made to give us some idea of the scale of them. 

We accept that we find it difficult to find the time to get down to the club and actively build a new layout.  Therefore this one has been designed with a simple concept; two scenic boards at the front which can be changed in the future, and a common fiddleyard.  The layout will be a 'tailchaser' in effect with a fiddle yard behind and two curved boards at either end.  We hope that this will enable us to appear more productive in the future.  However we are a long way from that just yet.  More pictures of current progress will appear here soon.

Above; Progress as of 29th Sept  08.  The left three show the fiddleyard board.  This has taken some design as we want it to last through several future layouts if possible.  It includes the possibility for through running, but also for the storage and turning of various trains.  Clearly its capacity will be limited so there will be a rotation of stock from different Irish lines and what you might see on one day at exhibition may be completely different to the next.  The holes show where the removable cassettes will be for turning locos and railcars.  Stock will remain untouched and unturned - much as the prototype.  The fiddle yard is made up of Peco 12mm Code 75 track on cork underlay.  The middle right hand picture shows the construction of one of the points for the front of the layout.  These will all be built by hand as will the other trackwork.  The points are drawn out to scale on a CAD package so that we get the radius right.  In fact all of the trackwork on the scenic part of the layout was drawn out on large sheets using this method, to scale, so that we could make any suitable adjustments and amend any frailties in the drawings. Track is Peco but Code 60 flat bottomed rail laid on plywood sleepers having been soldered to small rivets in the sleeper.  Much care is needed not to burn the sleeper!  Far right picture; mock ups of all the station buildings have been made to check for size and location - to make sure they don't need to go over a join - fortunately they don't.

Progress on 10th August 2010.  All the boards are now done and the trackwork is all but complete - electrical testing will be taking place in the next few weeks!  From l to r; Laurence, Robert, Peter.

December 2014

Progress has been good.  The station is fully formed, all the signals work as well as track and points obviously and the final bits are being added.  The three main protagonists - them that does most of the work - Jim, Laurence and Robert.  On the right are the shelters with laser cut overlays for the bargeboards and main front framing of the customs shed!  More details will appear here soon.

April 2015

The new goods shed bedding in!  Pictures of the some trains running through the station to appear here and on faceache soon!

May 2015 - club exhibition

October 2015 Merseyside Show

September 2017 Saltney Show

Well, after a pig of a day on Saturday, we think we know what the problem was, which has now been sorted.  A big thank you to the Mostyn Junction lads who gave us some advice on a better way to set up the controllers for DCC.  We thought we had sorted it - it is now!  Running was much better on the Sunday and we are a prouder bunch with what we have achieved so far.  Still a way to go but the the layout was well received by the public even the Mayor of Wirral!  Thanks everyone for your support.  The layout is almost good, but over the next few months can only get much better as we get used to operation and the scenic work and buildings are finished off!

Exhibition Details

'Castlefin' is to be exhibited at;

4th & 5th April 2020. Elsecar (Barnsley).

19th & 20th September 2020. CMRC Saltney.

6th & 7th February 2021. Stafford.

4th & 5th September 2021. Liverpool (Provisional, nothing in writing yet)

18th September 2021. Birmingham, European Railways Group.

1st & 2nd October 2022. Wigan


'Castlefin' has been exhibited recently at;

28th & 29th September 2019 - Halifax

30th & 31st March 2019 - Sheffield

26th to 28th May 2018 - Bala Lake Railway event - click for details

27th October 2017 - Newtown Model Railway Society Exhibition Welshpool

11th March 2017 - Narrow Gauge North - Pudsey Civic Hall, Yorkshire

9th / 10th May 2015 -  Chester MRC's own show -  Upton-by-Chester British Legion

31st Oct / 1st Nov 2015 -  Merseyside Model Railway Exhibition - Mosslands School, Wallasey


Please feel free to contact us for more details - CLICK HERE

Below is a map of Castlefin Station in 1905 (ish).  At this time there were a couple of extra points - a loop in the sidings - and the goods shed had not been extended. (this was extended around the time of partition - 1923 - and became a bonded warehouse for goods travelling through customs). The point to the sidings is before the main passing loop and the signal box is to the south of the main line rather than the north.  This all assumes the OS to be accurate!  Geographically speaking, the ground slopes away towards the river in the south but also from right to left - indicated by the line in a cutting and below the level of the town to the right and north, but on an embankment to the left and south.

Pictures of the real station taken in 2005