It has now been more than a year since I first "floated" the idea for the Monkton
Priors project and a great deal has been achieved, under less than ideal circumstances.
Fund-raising proved problematic at the outset but the slow start has has been compensated
by more recent generous donations, of both cash and materials.
At the outset, I envisaged a layout designed with a single objective in mind, to
exhibit at the National Garden Railway Show (April 2017) at Peterborough.
It was to have been (governed in particular by financial and man-power constraints)
a "minimal" layout in scenic terms which would be designed with "portability" as
a major consideration. However, it soon became clear that expectations were of a
layout capable of being exhibited at national model railway exhibitions and that
would require a fully scenic layout with attention to scale and fine detail.
The consequence has been that the scenic portion of the layout has been constructed
to portray a small GWR branch terminus at any period from grouping (1923) to the
The buildings and structures have all been scratch-built to meet the required standards
and the authentic GWR signalling installation will be fully operational and under
The workload has been spread around a small team (in locations, as far-flung as Derbyshire,
Lincoln and the Scottish Highlands) with construction HQ being here in Cambridgeshire.
There is still a lot to be done but the most difficult decisions have been taken
and, so far as the scenic section is concerned, the finances are "on track".' The
structure for the scenic section has been completed, the outstanding tasks are to
dress the layout boards with the track, ballast, station platform, buildings and
other scenery (all of which have been prepared and are “waiting in the wings”).
There will be a further drive to raise funds at the AGM, since the project needs
around another 250 Pounds to complete the "fiddle yard" sections (for the purposes
of the AGM and the National Garden Railway Show, a fiddle yard section is being "borrowed").
It may sound a little premature but an extension to the layout is already being planned
: The idea is to add a fiddle yard at either end, which will provide running "options"
: The scenic section would be capable of being displayed either as a terminus or
through station (dependent upon available exhibition space), while the "fiddle yard"
sections would be capable of being used (with other compatible track units) to form
a portable demonstration track for outdoor use (this was an aspiration of the original
concept but the decision to produce a scale exhibition-standard scenic section rather
disrupted the original plan).
The target is to have the layout at Biggleswade for the AGM (it may or may not be
in a fully-completed state and that is largely weather-dependent) prior to display
at Peterborough Arena on April 8th. (by which time it will , most certainly, have
Wishing You a Happy New Year on behalf of the Team.
Monkton Priors Construction Team : John Candy; Ken Cottle; Tim Dearman; Roy Horrocks;
Ted Sadler; Richard Toplis; Ian Turner.