Welcome to the homepage for the Henmore Dale Light Railway, and the blog which covers the inception, build and now rebuilding of the layout.

The initial aim of the layout was to give the group a modelling focus in addition to our mutual enjoyment of drinking tea and beer. Started on some baseboards which a member part owned, the basis of Park Road station emerged with a run round loop, goods yard and loco shed with two lines heading off, one through the town to the mainline station and the other up the Henmore valley past a factory. The layout being modular could be set up in a number of configurations as our whim or space requirements required, though soon after, one particular set up was chosen as we extended the layout and this is the layout shown in the plan and the one many members have seen at our annual members’ days in Mickleover or at exhibitions.

This initial layout in its usual configuration was eighteen feet long by up to eight feet wide, but was to grow to an overall size of thirty feet long by ten feet wide scenically complete including fiddle yards, or a maximum thirty eight feet long operable length if we added the other two baseboards we had running but not complete scenically.

Some groups build a succession of smaller layouts over time as their skills develop, we on the other hand took an alternate path of extending the layout, which grew like Topsy. On the way, we would re-do parts which in our mind, didn’t work and the scenery has also been re-done a couple of times.

The first addition was a turntable and cottages on the station end of the layout, reflecting the fact that the HDLR was a serious concern, with large locos to shift the tons of limestone being quarried in the area. The gardens of the cottages, although seeing the least movement on the whole layout, would often become the biggest talking point at exhibitions.

The crowning glory came when the layout featured in the April 2013 issue of Railway Modeller magazine, complete with some stunning photography by Steve Flint (some of which is featured on these pages) coinciding with our appearance at York Exhibition that Easter.

Over the weekend of the show, there was much discussion about the future of the group layout over copious amounts of tea, beer and for a couple of us, a three course pork pie dinner, but with no real conclusion. This exhibition proved to be the layout’s swansong as, through tiredness at the end of a long three hot days exhibiting, one station baseboard was badly damaged whilst dismantling the layout on the Sunday evening. Suddenly, discussing the future of the layout and the group became more urgent.

After much discussions (3 years worth in fact!), the group decided that building a replacement layout, Sandy Lane Halt (Ashbourne) was the way forward, and this blog will chart our ongoing progress with this. The new layout made it’s first (non-operational) appearance at our annual Trent Valley Open Day in Mickleover, in January 2017, where it was well received. This was the first time that the layout had been erected in it’s entirety, and we were pleased to find that it did all fit together!

Progress since then has focused on completing the electric knitting, and building the carrying cases for the boards, plus the basic land forms for the two new scenic boards.

For updates on our progress, please click on the ‘Blog’ button at the top of the page.

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