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Chapel Junction ; The evolution of a club layout.

Railway Modeller article - August 2009

Chapel Junction has now been decommissioned, but we have retained these photographs on the website.


Chapel Junction was the 00 gauge railway of the Chester Model Railway Club's 4mm section. It took its name from the clubs premises, a former chapel, in a railway hamlet built up around a junction on the Chester & Holyhead railway. The junction boasted a loco depot, martialling yard and a slate wharf . The Club was fortunate to purchase in the clubhouse in 1991, giving it a permanent home for the first time since its founding in 1951.

The layout was begun shortly after the move to the new premises, and consisted of a large continuous run with four mainline tracks and a cross over in the centre, a loco facility, a goods depot served by a private siding and a fiddleyard. The original concept behind the layout was to enable club members to run trains on the Monday evening club nights, on a large layout, through a generally rural scene.

With changes of membership and interests over the last couple of years, the layout had been through a number of changes before arriving at its final configuration. The developments had enthused the 4mm section to start planning for the layout to enter the exhibition circuit.  The layout featured a transition from the rural areas around the original tunnels and viaducts, to a more urban setting on the approaches to the community of Chapel Junction.

Only the platform ends of the station itself were modelled in a tempting view through the bridge section of the urban road viaduct. When the layout was planned, no distinct area was set, however the layout had the look and feel of a four track mainline through the Peak district in the late 1950s - early 1960s.


The layout measured 23ft by 10ft and was carried on ten baseboards.


The trackwork was SMP with hand built points. This gave an authentic look and provided generally good running, assuming fine scale wheels are used. Ballasting the track was a tedious task taking place over several weeks, using the traditional diluted PVA mix with a dash of washing up liquid, dripped onto the previously dampened ballast.

The fiddle yard had twelve lines all electrically split so that 24 different train sets could be run in any session. Five operators would have been required!


The four mainline tracks had individual Gaugemaster controllers. The points in the scenic section were worked by tortoise point motors from the depot control panel. In the fiddle yard ex Post Office relays were used but it had been planned to modernise and use above baseboard point motors.


The countryside scenery was built over a polystyrene base, covered with Mod-Roc or plaster, painted brown, and covered with suitable scatter material. On the rather bleak ‘moorland’ area above the tunnels, we experimented with using hanging basket liner stuck down, dry brushed with watercolour, and sealed with hairspray. The stone walls and ruined cottage on this part of the layout were constructed from individual squares of grey card. A constructional technique borrowed from old magazines by one of our junior members. The old bath by the cottage, utilised as an animal feeding trough, was cut out from a packet of pills!

Some of the trees were formed using brass picture wire, covered with a mix of brown acrylic sealant and PVA, which was then weathered to a greyish colour. The trees foliage was from Woodland Scenics and was applied sparingly to avoid a ‘lumpy’ look.

In other areas ‘forest in a box’ had been used. These trees looked effective when grouped together, but they were fragile and prone to break, especially if they were placed near the front of the layout.

The lineside allotments were a test of patience, with individual plants being formed mostly from tissue or tracing paper. The rhubarb is clearly genetically modified! The greenhouses were created on the computer, printed onto acetate sheet, then cut out and folded using a small amount of superglue to hold everything in place. The huts were mostly cobbled together using surplus parts from old plastic kits.

To simulate the dirty, uneven surface of the loco yard, we used dark wood filler mixed with a small amount of PVA, which was then applied sparingly with a small stiff brush. This was then painted over with watercolours, mixed to a muddy shade. Small amounts of ‘static grass’ were laid down on a thin bed of glue, especially between the mainline and yard areas, to soften the demarcation.


The girder viaduct was scratchbuilt whilst the parallel stone arched viaduct was developed from a Langley kit. The latter was incorporated with much rebuilding into an existing embankment. The majority of the buildings were kits, mostly Metcalfe, suitably weathered and modified. We used kits in order to get the layout into a reasonable state of completion as soon as possible. The terraced house back yards have been detailed with the type of clutter that you would expect to see, bicycles, coal bunkers, washing lines and so on.

In the yard area a turntable was installed and motorised.

Various businesses were established under the arches by the station approaches. The scrap cars in this area were bought for a few pence at a local swap-meet and suitably distressed. Use was made of the computer to produce shop signs, newspaper placards and advertisements.

Peco and Townscene backscenes were used, set down low behind the low relief buildings, to give the suggestion of a town beyond.

Pictures from August 2008

Below are some pictures from photographer and club member Alistair Field.  For more of his excellent pictures click here.

Rolling stock

The layout was intended as a showcase for BR (Midland Region) stock during the transition from steam to diesel. On club running nights however it's more a case of ‘anything goes’  and sightings included a Rivarossi Union Pacific Challenger 4-6-6-4, a London Underground 1938 three car set, and the then new Bachmann prototype Deltic. The only proviso for running was that the wheels were compatible with finescale track, and the back to backs were checked.

The club boasted a collection of three LNER locos, a J10, C13 & N5. These were representatives of the principle classes stabled at Chester Northgate depot in the 1950's, these locomotives were of particular significance to the Club as at one point the club rooms were in the waiting room of Chester Northgate station. Our depot had a passing resemblance to the old Northgate ones and was used for a ‘Chester LNER’ photo shoot. (See the pictures below.)

The ‘Shuttleworth Collection’

Below are a series of pictures taken by James Shuttleworth.  He took a number of shots of kit built stock from a now departed senior member of the club.

The Club was unfortunate enough to suffer a break in at Christmas 2006, when a large quantity of our 00 stock was stolen. Needless to say no locomotives or rolling stock are now held at the clubs premises, and security has been increased!


The layout operated the full range of trains from express passenger to local goods. Light engine movements took place between the depot and nearby station. The headshunt off the mainline was used for this purpose. The continuation of the headshunt forms the private siding for the goods depot.


Chas Wheatley & Stewart Shuttleworth

We thank all members of the 4mm section for comments on these details.


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