Commission: Rushcliffe in OO…

I was commissioned to design this layout at the end of 2023 and shared the design work in March. I have been able, through juggling some other bits and pieces around, to turn it around the best meet my customers requirements on timing and that means that today, I can share the completed layout build...

From that original post I quote:
"...a scheme based upon part of the old Great Central. A double track has been rationalised to single and signalling massively rationalised. A loop retained at our location for running around trains serving the off stage industry..."

Rushcliffe in reality was a station north of Loughborough and served a small village of East Leake and nearby gypsum works. Closed in 1963 today it survives and is served by occasional Great Central trains with the long term ambition of re-opening the route from Leicester through to Nottingham. In our scheme the line was singled instead, and a skeleton passenger service remained serving just the one platform. The loop remains intact to allow shunting and access to the works - whilst 'inspired' by Rushcliffe and the area in general it is not a model of the location as such - perhaps consider it a tribute act?!

The model is housed in my usual cameo box and is 1.2m long, around 30cm deep. There are fiddle sticks at each end that allow full operation of the small scene (see the video at the end of the post to get a look at those) and despite it's compact nature the layout is good fun to play with - passenger trains can shuttle on the front track and goods trains can be shunted in the works. The three roads (headhunt, front platform and back platform) can all be isolated too, allowing you to leave a train in one whilst running another.

Here you can see the complete composition. The 08 sits in the front platform road and the Planet shunter in the headshunt. At one end a York Modelmaking bridge frames the scene and harks back to my customers early memories of watching trains with his Grandad. On the right a road bridge in blue brick hides the exit and suggests the platforms extend beyond. The signal post is bare and the rear platform is disused. A big sky back scene is used as this layout will be viewed from nearer to eye level.

When you're building a commission it is about balancing the effort to create something unique whilst allowing for a few 'short cuts' and so we have a number of 'kits' on stage allowing me to focus time on the more signature elements of the composition without adding un-necessarily to the cost. The waiting shelter is a Wills kit, the platform edges are Peco and the fencing is Ratio. The road bridge is made from Wills parts as well, but is more of a kit bash. This allowed me to spend time building the complex but well designed footbridge kit and hand make the pair of trees - as well as spending longer on the ground cover.

The contrast between used and un-used seems  much sharper when viewed from above (grey and black ballast) but when you get down lower it works really nicely. The Peco bull-head track is exceptional in its fine detail, I remain in awe of what they have achieved versus my childhood layouts with Code 100! Ground cover is then built up with layer upon layer of static grass, blending colours and lengths to give a natural feel to the areas surrounding the railway (as well as some weed growth on the industrial siding). Other methods are then used to add the detail like nettles and weeds.

A Wills plate layers hut has been used instead of the 'foundations' of the old signal box. This means there is a nice view block at the front of the layout to peer around. I've spent time ensuring this is neatly assembled and weathered - note the corrugated roof has had the lower flat etch carved with a triangular needle file to give the wavy flow to the edge.

Despite its relatively narrow nature the model still affords lovely views along the track. This long shot accentuates the grassy weed strewn headshunt nicely. The Peco line side ground frame (and rodding) serves to allow the train (when in possession of the staff) to open the turnout allowing access to the works siding.

Sadly I don't have much suitable stock for Rushcliffe here so you've had to make do with a few views of the 08 and industrial. I look forward to seeing photos of the model when it is in place in my customers home in a week or two! 

If you'd like to work with me to develop your own project the layout design process starts from £180 where we work through the traditional questions of space, scope and cost and interweave this with a conversation about your story, ensuring the result sings to you and feels full of character, your character. The layout design process is a great springboard into a full commission build, should you wish.

In the meantime I'll leave you with the usual video tour, click through to watch on YouTube at full screen. I've enjoyed putting this project together, and again, sharing it with you all. Until next time, more soon...

I love writing and creating material for the blog. If you enjoy what you read and engage with I would be appreciative of any donation, large or small, to help me keep it advert and restriction free.


  1. Great stuff James! The second to last photo with the 16t minerals and the little industrial shunter is very atmospheric. Not a part of the world I know at all but the model oozes atmosphere. Take care.

    1. Thanks Tom, yes it’s a lovely layout. ‘oozes atmosphere’ sounds almost like something Chris Mason would say… sorry, that’s quite a niche one that, if you know you know.

    2. Hi James
      Hope you had a good and relaxing weekend although maybe completing Rushcliffe may have meant that was less so.
      I have to say after seeing the photos and looking at YouTube you have made a great job and I am sure your customer will be very pleased ( I know I would be). The modelled area has, to me, the right feel of a mainline/industrial railway connection and the “off stage” fiddlesticks really increase the operational aspects. It takes me back to visiting places like Rushcliffe in the 1970’s. As you know I visited the similar Hawton works of British Gypsum. I liked the contrast between the main line and industrial track although I might have made the latter more over grown with less ballast showing but that is a personal and operation consideration. Seeing and hearing the Planet working the siding was very atmospheric.
      I also liked the recent post on Beaverbrook and the Sweep. I would have posted on that before but have only just got back from another few days in Edinburgh. The work on the Sweep has made it look right for the scene you are modelling and with CN doing the work in reality you have a unique lokey without the temptation to freelance the weird and wonderful. I too like the sound of a straight EMD SW1200 or GP7 and combining them as in the Sweep seems a bit strange – as it was when I first heard the CAT conversion of the Englewood SW1200’s on Vancouver Island. I look forward to seeing the next stage on Beaverbrook with the S&W/HMLX units
      Best regards

    3. Thanks Alan, for comments RE this and Beaverbrook. I hope you enjoyed your time in Edinburgh!


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