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The Kentside Branch     by Karl Crowther


This page will be updated as work progresses on the layout project, this content duplicated from the introduction on the January 2020 update page.


The Kentside Branch - It’s now over 10 years since the original Kentside layout made its last show appearance. This photograph from that time gives a good flavour of what the model was all about. Originally it was intended to produce a larger exhibition layout along the same theme. Then came along Hebble Vale, which was intended to be a ‘quickie’ project - but that’s another story! 2018 saw the opportunity to acquire a purpose-built shed to house a permanent layout and this has allowed room to also include the Kendal (Castle) terminus of the line – all being greatly influenced by David Jenkinson’s 7mm scale ‘Kendal Branch’. Fortunately all the buildings from the original layout have been conserved for redeployment on the new scheme and hopefully a similar atmosphere can be re-created.


Outline Plan - This sketch shows the scenario I’m working towards – lines that were built in dotted lines, fictional routes in solid. Essentially an ex Furness Railway branch from Arnside to Kendal as envisaged by DJ, but I’m saying that the line was not built by the Midland, but instead by the Furness (though the Kendal-Dent Head line remains ex-Midland). Although the original Kentside layout was single track, given that Kendal is quite a large and important town, the branch has become double track to cope with the volume of traffic. The majority of passenger trains originate from Leeds Wellington (combined with Morecambe portions as far as Wennington), with a much less frequent shuttle service serving the Dent Head line. There will be a daily pick up goods from Carnforth, out and back to Dent Head, while further goods traffic includes trip workings to Kentside quarry (now fully featured), plus the coke trains between Barrow and the north-east. With a daily parcels for K’s Shoes at Kendal (for Bradfield Gloucester Square) and scope also for the odd excursion train from places such as the West Riding, the layout should have really interesting operating potential.


One of the original Kentside locos, ex-Midland 2F 0-6-0 58123 – another lovely photo taken by Ian Manderson (an Alan Gibson kit). It should find plenty of work and be very much at home on the local pick-up goods trains.


Back in August 2019 I held an open day to mark my 60th Birthday. A short section of track was operable and a display was set up to show off some of the original buildings and rolling stock etc. Kentside station will occupy the boards on the right hand side of this view, with the quarry in the corner beyond. Across the rear will be a viaduct across the river Bela, which will be based on Greenodd (which was fortunately built for double track, though it was only ever single). On the left hand side is what will become the storage sidings and at the front, where the camera is positioned is the space that will be occupied by the Kendal Castle terminus. As it’s Furness in my case, the site will be an almost perfect fit for Lakeside, so that’s what I’ll be adopting as faithfully as I can manage (minus the lake of course!), as I’ve always wanted to model the station buildings there.


Another project that’s been on the back burner for more years than I care to remember, but recently completed, is this ‘Limousine cab’ Fowler 2-6-4T. The superstructure is based around a Hornby donor body with Mike Edge’s etched overlays, while the chassis is Comet, and uses Fox lining to complete the paint job. Seen here on Hebble Vale of course!


This is a more recent view of progress with track laying through what will become Kentside station. The edge of Morecambe Bay will be alongside. The points are servo-operated with surface mounted wire in tube (here with temporary MERG Ezypoints units – though eventually all points and signals will be controlled by the MERG Servo 4 boards). I have to thank John Elliott for these ideas and Richard Challis for his advice on the electrics plus Mike Norris and Chris Littleworth for their input on the developing signalling plans (more on this later in the year, hopefully). On the scenic sections the servos will be hidden under removable sections of the scenery.


A close up view of some of the competed pointwork – the crossover at the north end of Kentside station and entrance to the quarry complex. For the visible sections I’m using scale depth plywood sleepers and Exactoscale chairs (copperclad & flexi-track off-stage). There are also sections of concrete sleeper track (just visible here), plus plans to include a length or two of flat bottom rail with BR1 chair plates. Wiring to the point switches here is a temporary fitting just so I could get this short length of track operational for testing purposes. Having something running at an early stage was something I considered really important!


Last for this month, but not least, I’ve treated myself to a couple of Sutton’s Loco Works Class 24s. This one will have headcode boxes fitted and is destined to become 5149, a Holbeck loco in 1967/68. There’s also a blue example that will become 5113, again a Holbeck loco at this time. I’m grateful to Philip Sutton with help on (hopefully) getting all the details right. Amazing to get an RTR loco with EM wheels already fitted – plus they sound awesome and great fun to drive as well! This view also shows the concrete sleeper track quite nicely.