BLOG: West Coast on show

Photo: A pair of Class 37s leads a ballast train past the cement works on West Coast Cement.


This weekend (August 17/18 2019) we will be inside Hornby’s former factory in Margate setting up West Coast Cement for the Hornby Visitor Centre Open Weekend – and I’m really looking forward to it.

For starters, it has been a long time since West Coast Cement saw the light of day and secondly its the chance to take a model railway into the factory buildings where thousands upon thousands of Hornby products were made.

I’m equally excited for the visitors to this event. It might not be the biggest model railway show ever staged, but its location is absolutely priceless with the added bonus of seeing model railway displays and layouts, societies, the newly refurbished Visitor Centre and – for the very first time – public access to the One:One Collection of stored locomotives and rolling stock.

Back at Hornby Magazine HQ the heat is on to get everything ready for West Coast Cement to go to the show. This ‘OO’ gauge layout has only been seen once at an exhibition – when it made its debut at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in November 2018 on our stand – and the Hornby event offers us a second chance to get behind the controls and showcase more of its potential. It’s a simple layout to operate compared to the likes of Twelve Trees Junction and Grosvenor Square but, actually, that doesn’t take anything away from our enjoyment. It can get quite intense running the layout as all but one loop in the storage in each direction has at least two trains in it meaning we always have to be on the ball to set the right routes and move trains up to accommodate the return of another.

In essence, the layout is a double-track continuous run which has just one set of points on the inner mainline to link to a joining loop. There is a cement works section too, but this only joins with the mainline section off-scene in the storage yard making it possible to run this area independently of the main lines. It all goes together to create a compelling recreation of the West Coast Main Line in the 1995-2005 period – a time when I spent plenty of time at the lineside on the Northern section of the Euston-Glasgow route. We run a wide variety of diesel and electric traction including classes 31, 37, 47, 56, 57, 58 (not entirely accurate for the area, but we like them), 60, 66, 67, 86, 87, 90, 121, 122, 150,  220 and 390 with potential for other stock to join the fleet in the future.

Class 56 is held at the signal in the loop while a Class 37 ticks over in the cement works yard.

Most of our stock is already prepared from the layouts first outing last year, but there are always updates, new locomotives and new sound fitting projects to complete.

Regular readers will have seen our feature on Flying Scotsman in the latest issue (HM147) which joins the fleet as a rail tour engine. There is also the new pair of Class 37s from HM145 plus a new Class 60 with a TTS decoder (our fifth Class 60 for the layout collectively). On my workbench now is the model of 66001 detailed by Tim Shackleton in HM145 which is waiting for a Zimo MX645R decoder and Rail Exclusive speaker to be installed.

A highlight of the roster is the double-headed Freightliner working hauled by a pair of Class 86s. This is the longest train to run on West Coast Cement.

Between now and next Friday we will be working on the final little details which we want to add to the layout as well as checking the stock boxes, packing the motive power fleet and checking through the control equipment so that we are ready for the show.

And the good news is that if you can’t get to Margate on August 17/18, and you want to see West Coast Cement, it will be at the Great Electric Train Show on October 12/13 at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. Find out more about these two shows in the links below.

Hornby Visitor Centre Open Weekend –

Great Electric Train Show 2019 –

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