This layout originally called Sherdington was started under the umbrella of a local club by the EM Gauge Society members of the club. It was exhibited around 70 times between 1973 and 1984 usually changing between appearances. The layout grew from 16 feet long to a 20 * 20 "F" shape when it was renamed "Eastwell". The logistics of exhibiting it became more difficult for smaller clubs and a small scale offshoot the Eastwell Ironstone Company layout was born around 1984. This was based upon the "Crusher Plant" scene which was used to mask the storage sidings and returned the layout to a 16 feet long format.
The Eastwell Ironstone Company layout was exhibited between 1984 and 2002. After Alan Browning's death it was moved to Hereford where it now resides in a purpose built trailer.
There was a permanant split for the I&WE MRC in 1987 following the premature death of Alan Browning. This split created the "East London Finescale Group" or the ELFs who joined the Chiltens Model Railway Association (CMRA).
Because of lack of space the existing plans for Eastwell was never completed. Subsequently Eastwell Station was also extracted from the larger layout by excluding the exchange sidings and the crusher plant scenes - and exhibited attached to the storage sidings between 1984 and 2001. This now resides in a purpose built garden shed.
The exchange yard known as Ropeway Sidings was canabalised to extend the Eastwell Ironstone Company layout, which itself was extended several times under the management of Paul James. One baseboard of Ropeway Sidings - the Ironworks building was given by the IWEMRC to the Rutland Railway Museum, although we are not aware that it is on public display. Two of four last baseboards made eventually became part of Eastwell Ironstone Company
When he died Alan Browning was building a layout called Coleorton No2 - a colliery. This was exhibited several times 1988-1989 as an incomplete layout but did not perform too well and was retired for modifications which are yet to be completed. This now resides in the Peterborough area.
Following the move to Norfolk a small experimental layout called Newton Gate was refurbished for use at exhibitions. This is being managed by the Northern Twig of the ELFs.
Eastwell Development History
A record of the development of Eastwell has been kept as a series of track plans. The layout "just grew" probably not unlike many prototype railways where inital traffic estimates fell behind the actual development of an area and the resulting railway traffic growth. In the case of a model the development was steered by the desires of the builders, the number of modellers that became involved and their particular interests.
The AMBIS interest in Eastwell
The AMBIS Engineering range has been developed from the needs of the Eastwell group layouts which were not satisfied by the then available products. This theme will be continued to support other layouts under construction.
Published References to Eastwell
1) Model Railway Constructor, May 1980, "For Sherdington Change to Eastwell"
2) British Railway Modelling, May 1997, "Eastwell, not so much a layout more a way of life"
3) Model Railways, August and September 1987, "Mini Eastwell"
4) British Railway Modelling, August 1994, "Eastwell Ironstone Company"
The book by PSL "Adding Realism to Your Model Railway" Michael Andress, 1988 uses a number of photographs of Eastwell on pages 37, 39, 49, 86 and 92.
A photograph of Ropeway Sidings was used in the BRM book "A Century of Modelling Progress", published 1999.
Starting as a club layout there were many compromises made for rolling stock in the beginning but gradually as the main sources of locomotives and wagons were dominated by two members it gravitated towards the LMS in the 1930's and a new line history was devised. The use of iron ore as the main source of goods traffic was also a compromise between limestone and coal. As the layout developed coal became the dominant traffic until the crusher plant scene became operational.
Eastwell in the early days when it was known as Sherdington. This was a nondescript branch line terminal and fiddle yard built within 16 feet.
It did not take long for the projected industrial line and "L" shape to be developed. The industrial section was not just a single line but was built as exchange sidings and as a ironworks reflecting members interests. At the same time an engine turntable was added to the station to give extra train movements and to cope with larger mineral traffic engines. The first print of E. S. Tonks book on Ironstone Railways in the East Midlands was the inspiration for much of the development of Ropeway Sidings.
In those early days photographs were usually black and white.
There are good reasons why the layout was developed, which in model form was extra club members it created and that they owned more rolling stock than the origonal layout could cope with and had different interests than the initial reasons why the origonal layout was built.
Eastwell was enlarged in several distinct stages.
The last plan for Eastwell was to extend the distance to the Ropeway Sidings section and add a new industrial complex - a "tarmac plant" at the station. This would have made the layout a "U" shape 20 by 14 feet. Development of the tarmac plant started, but was not finished. The new baseboards for Ropeway Sidings were built and most of the track laid.
The station only format of Eastwell. Some more of the tarmac plant was completed before construction was suspended. The narrow gauge line into the tarmac plant had not been made operational.