11 September 2018
Set deep in rural Warwickshire, this little station existed largely as an interchange between two country railways, as Charles Stevens explains.
Broom Junction was one of those rare stations that existed merely to allow passengers to change trains. The station had limited road access, and being situated in a small Warwickshire village, little local traffic was generated. Instead it played a major role in the interchange between Midland Railway’s north-south line from Birmingham to Ashchurch and the east-west Midland & Stratford upon Avon Joint (MSJ) route. It also played an important part in the exchange of long-distance goods traffic which used these backwater lines to reduce congestion on more major routes. Until 1942, when a new spur was opened, the junction faced north so that all goods trains from the ‘SMJ’ heading south had to reverse at Broom. The new spur avoided the station completely and all southbound trains were capable of continuing without stopping.
A pair of Fowler 0-6-4Ts meet at the short island platform, providing connections between the Stratford & Midland Junction line (SMJ) and the ex-Midland Railway line between Ashchurch and Redditch.
Construction is very simple, following well-trodden paths, and there is nothing particularly unique in the construction of this EM Gauge layout. It reflects the norm for a small fiddleyard to fiddleyard layout. A number of delightful little details really bring the layout to life.
One of Charles' favourites is the portable ramp for loading livestock, one animal at a time. Not only was this moved around the yard to suit but even from station to station as required.
One unusual period detail is the portable cattle loading ramp, used at locations where a permanent cattle dock couldn't be justified.
Charles feels that operation of the layout should be as close as possible to what was seen there in the 1930s. You'll see from the trackplan that the junction with the ‘SMJ’ is off-scene, and that the bridge marks the end of the modelled area. In reality, beyond the bridge was a scissors type junction, and also a turntable and a couple of exchange/holding sidings. A little research also revealed an unusual pattern of operation for passenger trains. A local train would arrive from Stratford, passengers disembarked, and the train would reverse onto one of the sidings beyond the bridge. Trains from both Birmingham and Ashchurch directions would then arrive to cross in the platform loop. Passengers from Stratford for either direction would then entrain. Both long-distance trains would depart, leaving the local train to emerge from the siding. Depending on the make-up of this train the locomotive would either run round using the platform loop or use the turntable after running round to haul its train back to Stratford. Until 1947, when passenger services ceased from Stratford, this happened about six times a day. This procedure could not be adequately reproduced, as all the viewer would see is the three trains running in and out of the fiddleyards to no apparent purpose.
Further, goods trains from the Stratford direction heading south would have carried out a variant on this procedure, using the turntable to turn the locomotive before continuing towards Ashchurch.
As the model shows, there are virtually no buildings adjacent to the railway, and when the alterations take place, the Inn will remain but the other farm cottages will disappear to be replaced by an embankment, which is all that remains there today. In the fullness of time, the fiddleyards will be extended so that longer through trains can be modelled, closer to scale length, but these will have to wait until he has the storage room!
With few passengers to serve in this rural area, the cross-country 'SMJ' and north-south line to Ashchurch earned their keep as useful routes for slow-moving goods trains, and transporting away local produce from the Vale of Evesham. An ex-MR 2F waits in the loop for a coke train to pass, hauled by 4F No. 4454.
As it stands, the locomotive roster available to use is sufficient but plans to buy larger locomotives and convert them to EM are afoot. The EM Gauge Society provides useful materials and information on how to carry out such conversions.
Coaches and wagons are easier to convert, requiring merely a change of wheelsets which can be achieved with little hassle. The roster has already been increased with more coaches and wagons bought specifically for the expanded operations. Another source has been the estate of John Webb, a good friend and the owner operator of ‘Ambergate’. A few dozen of his half-complete wagons, all of which are more than suitable, have been donated together with some of his exquisite Midland Railway coaches which required a little finishing and now are available to backdate the layout a little further.
Numerous well-observed details, such as the diagonal fence slats, help to give the layout its Midland atmosphere. A coke train to pass, hauled by 4F No. 4454.
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