Chris Burch's Model Railways

Howling Moor Dam

View photographs

Keen students of this website will have noticed two stations on the map of the Nivverwas Valley Tramway that have not yet been modelled. One, Braunstone-in-Nivverwas, is waiting for me to gain the confidence to attempt gradients in an 8ft space. The other, Howling Moor Dam, was so simple and remote I wasn't going to bother - then I thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to create a minimalist layout on top of the Pennines - and cover it with thick snow!"

Here's the short descriptive paragraph I give to potential exhibition managers:

Imagine you're on a bleak, windswept, freezing platform on top of the Pennine Moors. There's been a heavy snowfall, and you don't know if the train will be able to take you back home... But then the train gets shunted into the siding - the snowplough's coming through!

The viewing part, just 4ft x 6in, contains a tiny halt with shelter, one point leading to a siding, two towers leading to the dam (just off the scene at one end) and a tunnel (at the other end). Plus a ruined shepherds' bothy that hides the two sockets - that's all the electrics I needed - and a dark grey sky that contrasts with the white of the snow and threatens more work for the snowplough. With end boards for the cassettes (to take the few trains that venture out in this weather) the total length is 6ft 3in.

The snowplough train (two tank engines sandwiched between N Gauge Society snowploughs, all weathered till they're filthy) is a talking point, and several children have come behind the layout to have a go at operating - with the usual reward of a signed certificate.

Howling Moor Dam is available for booking at exhibitions.

View photographs