Picture by Phil Copleston
In the late 1950s, when I was about seven years old, my father took me to a model railway exhibition at the Wimbledon Public Baths. One of the exhibits was the 1/64th scale layout based on the station at Swanage. While no trains ran, the layout and the associated display of rolling stock caught my eye. However, my father guided me away from it, saying, “You have to make everything yourself”. Brought up on a diet of the Railway Modeller, I was not fully aware of scratch building. I also did not realise that several leading modellers in the scale lived within a few miles of home.
During the 1960s I fiddled around with TT, running out-of-the-box Triang trains on home built track using fibre bases and spikes to hold down flat bottom rail. This was follow by working in 4mm, but being disappointed with the 16.5 gauge fine scale track built for a joint LB&SCR and LSWR layout, I drafted away from modelling. For the next forty odd years I followed various projects that came to nothing. Then I purchased one of Mr Bachmann’s tempting, new Southern Railway N class moguls. But I had fallen into a trap of going back to where I left off … 16.5mm track that just does not look right. Why should I mess about trying to convert this nice loco when I could spend the time starting from scratch?
I looked around at a number of scales and 1/64th came out on top. With some kind support I managed to get started, producing a number of layouts – ‘Stroudley Green’, followed by ‘St Juliot’. Along with these small layouts, the ‘Country Boards’ were built as a way into a larger project that would include a terminal station for both home and exhibition use. Progress was slow and distractions, both modelling and other, were too many.
During 2015 it was decided to concentrate on a terminal station, ‘Mellstock Intrinseca’, as a home layout and a number of smaller layouts, ‘Tresparrett Wharf’ for example, that can be taken to a few exhibitions travelling by train. This is something of a challenge at this scale.
My regrets are that I started late in modelling at 1/64th, but the enjoyment gained from working largely as a scratch builder is something to be treasured. It is never too late to start.
There is also a great pleasure in working in this ‘natural scale’* that is large enough to have significant mass, while not taking up excessive amounts of space. I also enjoy the challenge of working in the scratch building environment. My purpose here is to record progress on various of these projects and hopefully encourage others to have a go at 1/64th Scale modelling.
* The term ‘natural scale’ relates to the principle of the halves… 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64……