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Blast from the Past - Gowts Bridge from the October 1998 Issue of British Railway Modelling

05 January 2012

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We go back to British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 and 'Gowts Bridge'...

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

David Barker and Richard Bode describe this busy cross country ex-GNR branch built by the Lincoln and District MRC. Photography by Steve Flint.

In the summer of 1856 the first trains ran into the newly constructed terminus at Gowts Bridge. The GNR double track branch left the main line immediately north of Retford and ran in a westerly direction for about nine miles to the rapidly growing Nottinghamshire town. The Great Northern, however, enjoyed only a brief period of exclusivity, for the Great Central also had designs on Gowts Bridge and entered the fray in 1860. They struck out with a single line branch due east from Dinnington. Their modest station being somewhat grandly named Gowts Bridge Central.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

A general view across the loco depot at Gowts Bridge

Both termini occupied a cramped site within the town, the latecomer having to settle for a high level location directly south of its rival. To further compound the problem of space, or rather lack of it, a canal basin also competed for room on the site. The Great Northern, never one to miss a business opportunity, soon gobbled up the foundering canal company and incorporated it into their grand scheme of things - which in this case happened to be the transportation of coal. The area was dotted with highly productive pits and it was this lucrative business which had attracted the attention of the railways in the first place. The GNR had built a compact, but well equipped facility at Gowts Bridge, providing both a main platform and an island platform which also doubled as a bay for local services and parcels traffic.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

'Ourebi' coasts into Gowts Bridge with a service from Newark

The red brick station building was constructed on an L shape plan and had a covered concourse which connected both platforms. The rather plain roof-line was punctuated with three towers. To the east lay the goods reception yard with its modest goods shed of standard Great Northern design sitting astride a quite substantial loading platform, at the end of which stood a four ton capacity crane.

Coal staithes were provided for the local merchants who had good access via Station Road into the yard. A siding was provided for a local manufacturer having a loading platform and canopy adjoining the back of his factory for direct transfer of merchandise onto the railway. Other industries in the area were engineering, textiles, cabinet making and brewing, all of whom took advantage of the rail head.

Six years after the station had opened, the GNR decided to build a small locomotive shed at the southern end of the site. This was a two road 'northlight' type of structure' with inspection pits. A 45' turntable was also installed. Coaling was provided by means of a ramp whereby the wagons were emptied by hand directly into the waiting fenders below. A water storage tank and crane stood just
outside the loco-shed. Later, in 1953, BR upgraded the turntable to a 52' type.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

A DMU prepares to depart from Gowts Bridge, whilst a Standard
Class 4MT arrives with a train from Sheffield

It was during the construction of the shed facilities that new lines were laid to saw the wharf, running along the narrow strip of land between the canal basin, the occupation arches and the high level Great Central establishments.

Train movements were initially controlled by a 25 lever signal box at the station throat. This was a wooden cabin mounted upon a lofly brick built base and awing to its restricted site, had to be recessed into the embankment. However, when the road bridge was built over the running lines, severe sighting problems ensued, causing a number of minor accidents. The problem was solved with the provision of another smaller cabin, located at the end of the island platform.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

The approach to Gowts Bridge was through a deep cutting, slicing through the distinctive red Sandstone of the area. The cutting ended abruptly when the lines entered the 150 yard tunnels just prior to the station throat. Three bores were provided, two for the main lines and a third for the goods road, this then ran alongside the main lines until it joined them at the end of the cutting. A head shunt and cross-over were also included in the track layout. All train movements beyond the tunnels were by Gowts Bridge South box.

Expansion of traffic, both goods and passenger, continued virtually unabated until the outbreak of the First World War when as an economy measure, all passenger services were reduced and at the GCR terminus, ceased altogether. This reduction in services was supposed to be a temporary measure only, but with the cessation of hostilities in 1918, passenger train never again ran into Gowts Bridge Central.

With the grouping in 1923 both the GNR and GCR were absorbed into the newly formed 'Big Four' railway companies. In this particular case It was the London and North Eastern Railway. 

Hard Times
By the 1930s, road competition was really making an impact upon the railway's revenues and the LNER reacted by cutting to the bone the goods only service on the old Great Central line, thus condemning it to a long, lingering death. Gowts Bridge soldiered on, however, until the outbreak of the Second World War saw an upturn in its traffic. A number of local engineering firms were pressed into the production of armaments, providing the railway with much needed sustenance.

Post-war and post-nationalisation saw the railway under British Railways Eastern Region control. Central Station finally closed to all traffic 1951 and the buildings were demolished. A few remnants of track remained, including those on their elevated location. These gradually rusted away over the years together with their motley collection of unwanted and vandalised rolling stock.

By 1962, and the time at which the station is modelled, a varied selection of locomotives were to be seen waking the line, including ex-LNER and LMS types as well as the later BR standards. Diesels are also making their presence felt, notably the ubiquitous DMUs on local passenger turns.

A few more years were to pass before Gowts Bridge became just another statistic in the Beeching Report and today no trace can be found of either station, obliterated and replaced by the almost inevitable supermarket and car park developments. Ironically, the canal basin and its waterways are enjoying a new lease of life, providing waterborne relaxation for the leisure seekers. Truly the first shall be the last! Well at least that's how it might have been – in actual fact Gowts Bridge is totally fictitious, the track plan being loosely based on the Swanage branch terminus. The layout was conceived in the 1980s and was the Club's first attempt at finescale construction. Over the years it has taken on aspects of all the Regions, predominantly Eastern and Midland. At exhibitions it is fun as in the late 1950s/early 1960s, a popular period in the steam/diesel transitional years.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

An English Electric Type 4 gets the right away as a Standard Class 4
arrives at Platform 1 with non-corridor stock.

These comprise of two at 6' X 2' and two at 5’ x 2’ the longer being some 9” deep to accommodate the folding legs, the transformers and the turntable mechanism. The tops are made of 1/2" chipboard on a 2” x 1” frame  with  1/2" ply sides. The smaller boards are only 3” deep, enough tor the wiring looms; the legs for these boards are separate. Once assembled the layout is very stable although somewhat heavy.

SMP rail soldered to copperclad sleepers has been used throughout. Pointwork, built using the same method, has wire-in-tube or rigid brass wire for operation, the polarity switch being at the lever end for easy access should a fault occur All trackwork was glued down on cork sheet with contact adhesive, then using a mixture of fine red sand and granite chippings the ballast was laid and syringed with PVA. When all was set and dry the whole area was sprayed with thinned enamel paints.


British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge



The road access into Gowts Bridge goods yard


Most are scratch-built using good quality plywood clad with sheet plastic very lightly bonded with contact adhesive. Brickwork was painted and then Scratched to reveal the mortar joints. The run of buildings at the rear of the goods yard has been purposely built to different levels and profiles to good effect and make an excellent backscene. The factory chimney was a piece of 1 and a quarter inch wastepipe cut to a taper, stitched with a soldering iron along a seam at the back and two bosses were made to fit the ends. The horizontal brick courses were turned using a small lathe, the vertical joints of the brickwork were painstakingly scratched by hand. The lettering on the buildings is from a selection of Letraset sheets, then fixed over with a fine matt varnish. Subtle weathering was then applied in thin washes. There are however some modified kits, for example the engine shed and signal boxes.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

Ivatt 2-6-2T 41311 trundles alongside the loco depot with empty coaching stock.

The signal gantry is a Ratio kit, eventually the arms will be made to operate, but as yet the temporary has become the permanent. Wire-in-tube will be the preferred method when we do get around to mechanisation, although coloured lights have been suggested we will see what develops.

The rock formations on the South face are formed from a combination of wood, polystyrene and car body filler. These were sculptured, covered in PVA and sprinkled with fine red sand. Most of the ground scatter is fine red sand, coal dust and cat litter. The raised ground in the shed area is an extra layer of cork suitably covered with coal dust, etc. The arches of the tunnels and the walling are scratched floor tile adhesive on a plywood base.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

Ivatt 2-6-2T 41311 shuffles wagons on the old wharf sidings

  British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge  
  A DMU accellerates past 46100 'Royal Scot' being turned for its next passenger duty  

The layout uses three controllers; No.1 being able to run anywhere, No.2 governs the goods yard and has access to the fiddle yard and No.3 runs the shed and has access to platforms one and two. All are controlled by double-throw double-pole switches and there are numerous isolated sections at strategic points throughout. Three separate transformers are used for the controllers and two more for the lighting and turntable. The turntable itself is driven by an old six volt duplicator motor and has a nice reduction gear box attached. This drives a Meccano chain around two baking tins glued together, sounds very Heath Robinson, but in actual fact works superbly. Alignment of the track is by mechanical stops which cause the chain to slip, reminding you to release the push button. Connection to the turntable track is by phosphor-bronze wipers mounted below.

Gowts Bridge is a layout of some 15 years in the making and has been revamped and upgraded several times. Our latest venture is to incorporate sub-baseboard magnets to use in conjunction with Sprat and Winkle couplings, so for these have proved very successful. As I have mentioned one of the next undertakings will be to have working signals and perhaps point rodding. It seems there is always something to be done, but then this is what keeps the hobby alive.


British Railway Modelling, Vol. 6 No.7 from October 1998 - Gowts Bridge

Condemned stock awaits its fate on the disused elevated sidings

David Barker and Richard Bode
British Railway Modelling, Vol 7, No. 6, October 1998

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