Chris Burch's Model Railways

Castle Brewery

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When I'm not working, I'm often playing trains. But as well as loving railways (and music), I am also a member of the Campaign for Real Ale. So it's not surprising that I've long wanted to make a layout based on a brewery. The local independent brewery in Leicester is Everard's, so I wrote to their managing director and he kindly allowed me to use the Everard's logo for a layout, as well as for a freight train. As usual with my layouts, the concept, design and execution owe all to my imagination, and nothing to historical accuracy! But the layout is set roughly in the 1960s – eagle-eyed spectators might even spot a suspicious-looking Red Barrel lurking... (not brewed by Everard's of course!)

The first bit of the layout to be completed was the brewery building – again, one of Metcalfe's card kits. Next – the freight train, courtesy of Robbie Burns, and complete with grain wagons, Marmite van (for the waste product) and "Ellis and Everard" coal wagon, from a photo I took of the real thing at the Snibston Discovery Park at Coalville.

There is a passenger halt at "Fosse Park Station" – also a goods and parcels shed, and a loco spur. The visiting loco waits there while the brewery's shunter (a diesel 03, 04 or 08) hauls the beer wagons down the kickback and propels them into the brewery sidings. The points are electrically operated, and the hand-held control panel can be used either side of the layout.

The Modular Layout concept has died the death! - everyone else in the project lost interest or moved on to other tasks. So Castle Brewery is now a stand-alone layout. I would never have designed it like this from scratch, but seeing 3 and sometimes 4 trains moving at once across the scene gives me a real buzz! It's fun to operate, and has been besieged by spectators and would-be operators at both its shows so far.

Castle Brewery made its first appearance at the Launde Abbey Fun Day on August Bank Holiday (26th Aug) 2013, and 2 weeks later was exhibited at the N Gauge Show near Leamington, Sept 7-8. It wasn't quite finished, and we (that is Brian, Mike and I) had some work to do before its next appearance at the Braunstone show on Sat 2nd November 2013.

In 2014 Castle Brewery travelled to Lutterworth in May and paid a return visit to the N Gauge Show near Leamington in August. By then I realised it wasn't going to fit into our new house (yes, we're moving in May 2015) so I put up a "for sale" sign. One visitor was interested, and has now agreed to buy it. Both Brian and I are sorry to see it go, because it's great fun to operate - and we've put in hours of work on it! But it's unwieldy (thanks to the modular layout origins) and sadly there's no room for it in our new and smaller house.

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