My old friend Dr Paul Glover lived in the Chiltern Hills and was a regular visitor at Bucks Hill. Over the years, he developed an impressive 7mm scale permanent layout called Aberayon,

I was involved in some of the re-arranging and upgrading work to prepare the layout for for a Model Rail Magazine feature by Chris Nevard. The full version follows here including all of Dr Paul’s original copy and captions as an expanded version of the well edited Model Rail Magazine feature.


A 1980’s layout reborn, (foreword by Kevin Wilson)

It’s a great shame that my old friend and colleague Dr Paul Glover won’t see his 7mm scale loft layout Aberayon featured here, as he passed away peacefully on Tuesday 3rd October last year, at the age of 94

It was one of his wishes that a good photographic record should be made, and this was arranged a little while ago. Luckily for us, he had set aside some time in advance to write some copy and captions in preparation.

Paul’s life revolved around facts and research, he had an insatiable appetite for knowledge and an encyclopaedic memory especially for those things that boys needed to know about, planes, automobiles, ships, ornithology, and of course trains.  His desire to maintain records yielded some surprises, I casually asked what his first car was, not only did he have the receipt but could tell me what he spent on petrol in that year! All the movements on the layout were recorded on a card system and run to a timetable that I think took about a month to complete.  He worked his way up through the management levels of the National Coal board, becoming the National Chairman of the Coal Trade Benevolent Association in 1976. In 2008, after his retirement from the Trustees, he became CTBA President, always speaking most warmly of his time working for Lord Ezra for 15 years, and eventually authoring his biography


Unlike many of his generation he embraced modern technology, Iphones and iPads etc and latterly converted the layout and locos to DCC with sound, enjoying the authentic wheezing sound from his pair of ex L.N.W.R. ‘Super D’s complete with their characteristic uneven exhaust beats, as a reminder of his youth when living in Coalville lying in bed hearing the distant shunting.

Paul’s kindness, enthusiasm and generosity will be remembered by many, and from his knowledge, he now describes Aberayon and it’s working practices for Model Rail readers, seen through the camera lens of Chris Nevard.

P. W. Glover merchant wagon.

I’ve actually been modelling for over 60 years now, and I have collected many models in all scales that reflected my interests, including all sorts of transport subjects. Planes, ships, automobiles and particularly 7mm scale trains, concentrating mainly on England’s post grouping period. The G.W.R. stock suits the Aberayon section of the layout, and the equivalent L.M.S. stock reflects my time within the coal industry, and it’s operations in and around the Leicestershire collieries, which I remember clearly firsthand. At this stage of my working life, all the interconnecting main lines in this area were operated by the L.M.S. so this set of photographs deliberately show my version of the typical day to day operations as they used to be.

Some readers may remember Kevin Wilson’s 7mm scale Aberayon, which was a complete fiddleyard to terminus exhibition layout. I acquired it with the idea of incorporating it into my present enlarged 37’ x 12’ loft which accepts an operating height of 2’9’ and allows a 5’ radius main line loop. So it is a looped end to end layout with a balanced store and terminus which is necessary in any scale. This adoption of Aberayon allowed Kevin some much needed space to begin work on his new project which was eventually to become the well known scenic ‘Bucks Hill’. The layout and stock now reveals the hand of many an expert modeller, so for interest, I will credit the craftsmen as I go along.

Aberayon’s small coastal terminus station has two platforms, with a typical yard of goods sidings opposite for local coal deliveries. To the near side, a narrow gauge feeder line climbs from a gravel quarry, up a steep gradient, to arrive at an elevated platform alongside a siding with chutes to direct tipper wagon loads into waiting main line wagons shunted into the siding below.

Aberayon Box controls the station and yard sidings, and the single line section to the end loop as far as the Ayon valley viaduct. The original hand painted 2D backscene gives the landscape context to this scene

Alongside the station throat pointwork, a small single road locomotive shed is sufficient for servicing, and another small fan of sidings fans out in the opposite direction to provide van access to the red brick goods shed. A G.W.R. signal box is placed opposite this and I find it quite easy to shunt both yards prototypically, separating and sorting the wagons in between the passenger timings.

From behind the shed, the single branch line enters a short cutting, to emerge into an open section of Exmoor type scenery, and the line then enters the 10ft diameter return curve, crossing a stone viaduct over the small valley of the Ayon and further into some more open countryside.

In the foreground, as the line completes its return loop, the much larger locomotive sheds at Chilton come into view, their purpose being to provide serviced and turned locmotives for some of the larger passenger services to Aberayon, but more importantly for suitable motive power for the colliery sidings opposite Chilton station. This small single platform station incorporates buildings by the late Carl Legg.

The layout does look purely Great Western, certainly a long way from Charnwood Forest Junction and my old stamping ground in Leicestershire. The workings in the LMS mode shown here clearly use both ex Midland and LNWR vehicles.

A colliery line and a road stone narrow gauge feeder have been incorporated, both based on workings observed in my early trainspotting days. Aberayon provides opportunities for mineral traffic, general goods, parcels and passengers on the basis of what comes down must also go up! The size of the loft really dictates what can and cannot be done, and to work the layout as realistically as possible it requires almost a 100 movements for a prototypical day and takes me almost a month to complete. It is easier with the layout in the house because for me, a shed or outside building might be more difficult (and colder in the winter).

A Webb coal engine shunts Aberayon’s station yard. This view is taken from the goods shed barrow crossing, with the small shed to the right.

The object of my layout is to provide day to day running of trains from either the LMS or the Great Western to diagrams which I can operate single handed. It’s not really a layout of any particular place or time but there is little to see after 1947! Many features and cameos around the layout take us back to the 30’s and 40’s.

The points and signals are interlocked and visible on the two illuminated control panels. The locomotive studs are much larger than necessary and the LMS and GWR operations alternate quarterly. The LMS operations depicted here are operated by models I actually knew including the three industrials of South Leicester colliery along with representative of most of the classes that worked in around Coalville (17C) in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Most at some time or another have been either built or improved by Nigel Smith. Some have worked almost daily for over twenty years.

Many people have had a hand – including Kevin Wilson, the late Carl Legg, Adrian Newsom (electrics) Mike Morris, Dave Merrill (signals), the late Richard Chown, and latterly and most clearly Paul Bambrick. Peter Sylvester, Simon Hill and Martyn Welch have also made substantial contributions.

The layout went DCC with sounds in 2016 making operations both more demanding and enjoyable. There were surprisingly fewer problems than I had feared and it was only these worries that held the conversion back for some years.




Single coach autotrains would certainly have seen more prosperous times and they were becoming rare on the LMS by the 1930’s, struggling to compete with the increasingly reliable local bus services (often supported directly or indirectly by the railways). The 50’ corridor third driving trailer L.M.S. number 5214 is still in good condition, one of four built by the LNWR in 1914, it had clearly been designed for heavier trains. Modelled by Adrian Roland from a North Star kit and painted in the LMS period 1 livery. The locomotive is a Johnson O-4-4T L.M.S. No1368 (plated Coventry 2F) which ran regularly on Nuneaton to Ashby Services in the early 1930’s. The model was made by Peter Everton, painted and weathered by Larry Goddard. It has Alan Harris wheels and an RG7 Portescap motor/gearbox and was painted, lined and weathered by the London Model Museum to livery code B3.



A branch passenger train would have at least double the seating capacity of a single coach auto train and this rake of three ex LNWR arc roof coaches of c 1900 in LMS period 1 livery by John Petcher is typical of early sets, providing ample luggage, parcels capacity and some first class seats. The set is headed by a 1935 Stanier 2-6-2 3P tank locomotive number 79. The prototype, along with number 114 arrived at Coalville in the 1930’s to work traffic on the Leicester to Burton line, actually with Midland not ex L.N.W.R. stock The model is from a Chowbent kit by Peter Sylvester and Nigel Smith, with Slaters wheels, an RG7 motor gearbox, painted and lined by Ian Rathbone and weathered. It is now 20 years old.


A lot of parcels traffic was handled by passenger trains but the volume of it and the delays caused by unloading and loading sometimes necessitated special trains, and the parcel train which stayed overnight at Aberayon was one such instance. It comprises a 31’ ex Midland Clayton Clerestory brake in period 2 livery painted by Alan Brackenborough. One ex LNW brake in period 1 livery by John Petcher. The locomotive is Fowler 2-6-4 4P number 2416 built at Derby in 1929. This was an engine I saw regularly in the 1930’s and the model is from a JM kit with Slaters wheels, an ABC Mashima motor/gearbox built by Nigel Smith, painted and lined and weathered by Ian Rathbone.


Milk traffic was a regular feature of branchline working and is represented here by a John Petcher built ex L.N.W.R. railway 45’ full brake in period 1 livery and a ventilated van. A train like this often had another role of delivering water to isolated signal boxes and other facilities, a practice which survived on the Ashby to Nuneaton line until the mid 50’s. The locomotive, typical of those used in the 30’s is number 7710, a Web 0-6-2T 2F coal engine. The model was made for me by Nigel Smith from a Gladiator kit with Slaters wheels, an ABC/Canon with Laurie Griffin auto fittings. This one is actually plated 4D Abergavenny.


Many collieries were only brought into production when a rail connection was established and so they depended on the availability of suitable wagons. At first these were provided by the collieries and the railways themselves, but other commercial interests soon became equally important, such as wagon builders, coal distributors, merchants and leasing companies. Gas and electricity generators affected the traffic flow and the mix of interests varied from one coal field to another as well as from colliery to colliery. The supply of wagons was essential to every working day and the railway companies in coalfield areas sought to meet the need. Empties for a days working were required to be in the sidings by 9am for the main coal getting shift. In many areas, two or sometimes 3 railway companies would work together, and patterns of movement of empty and full wagons soon emerged. From the onset of WW2 there was much rationalisation of traffic, and the empties train on the layout explifies this. It is hauled by a 2777, an “LMS Crab” mogul 5P 4F. Hughes, built at Crewe in 1927. I stood on the footplate of this engine at Charnwood Forest Junction in 1940 where it was an irregular visitor, and Patriots and Jubiliees often headed the early morning empties working from Banbury via Nuneaton to Hugglescot, for the South Leicester Colliery. The war brought common user status to both engines and wagons and this train represents the development.  The model of 2777 is by Nigel Smith from a College models kit painted and lined by Ian Rathbone in B4 livery in 2001.


A typical Midlands colliery in the late 30’s early 40’s would produce 400,000 tons of saleable coal per year. It would require 60 to 70 wagons per working day and 2 or 3 locomotives to handle the internal workings. At South Leicester, the 3 engines were all O-6-O tanks, firstly ‘Maud’ (Manning Wardle 1915), South Leicester number 1 (Peckett 1924) and “Stella’ (Hunslet 1932). I remember standing on Stella’s footplate within days of her arriving at South Leicester. I have models of each loco, Maud was built from an Agenoria kit with Slaters wheels and an ABC/Maxim, by Nigel Smith in 2001. Mineral wagons are from many sources with the pride of place probably being the South Leicester examples which have been weathered by Martyn Welch.


The Ayon valley is the locality for this combination view, with the small narrow gauge girder bridge dwarfed by the single line viaduct carrying the standard gauge branch line across the wooded riverbanks. In my day, loaded South Leicester colliery wagons were collected daily in five or 6 trips by LNWR coal engines originally shedded at Charnwood Forest Junction. The older coal tanks were replaced by Cauliflower types in the 30’s, and later still by Johnson O-6-OT engines based at Coalville, which was 17C code. Trip engines shunted the daily output of the colliery into trains which were then picked up by Midland engines and taken on to Mantle Lane. The movements on my layout are made to and from Aberayon which is quite a stretch of the imagination! The daily collection is of 15 wagons not the 60 of real life but such are the limitations of the loft. Coal engine number 8139 and Cauliflower number 8592 do the job , both re-built by Nigel Smith and painted in C27 livery. The evening departure of Aberayon via Chilton is taken by 6F, 7F or 8F locomotives. Featured engines are 9205 and 9403, both LNWR Bowen-Cooke ‘Super D’s’. 6F number 9204 is the earlier engine originally built by Beams in 1913. A Crewe rebuild to G2A standard took place in 1941. The model was originally built by Peter Everton with Alan Harris wheels, an RG7 and Joy inside motion. It was painted and weathered by Alan Brackenborough. 7F number 9403 was built at Crewe 1921 and this model is from a David Andrews kit with Slaters wheels an ABC/Canon and Joy inside motion by Nigel Smith in 2008. Both have accurate sound, and still occasionally stretch their legs on the long trains of open wagons that reside at Bucks Hill.


The Ayon valley, and it environs are now scenically finished, and it’s an obvious photogenic feature of the branch. Local farms and details appear in the landscape as the line traverses the close contours at this interesting spot. The narrow gauge quarry line crosses the river here and ducks under a viaduct arch to follow the riverbank up the valley. Aberayon is served by two standard gauge goods trains, the first is due to arrive as soon as the signal box is open at 6am brings coal for the yard. The coal merchants start to bag and load at 7am as I know from experience. The train also brings empties for the road stone loading facility and takes the loaded wagons away on its return. The locomotive is serviced at Aberayon as soon as the early morning parcel and passenger trains have departed. These and the later goods are usually headed by Midland 3F and 4F O-6-OT locomotives number 3779 or 4224. 3779 is a Johnson design of 1903 rebuilt at Derby in 1923 and it was for many years a Coalville engine. The model was built by Peter Sylvester and Nigel Smith having Slaters wheels and an RG7 along with inside motion. No 4224 shown here is again kit built with inside motion powered by an ABC/Maxon. Both models feature the C16 livery.


Coal deliveries were shovelled, bagged and weighed out on drays or lorries by the local merchants. The brake van would be shunted into into the departure siding currently occupied by the goods train engine No 8139, an ex L.N.W.R. Webb 0-6-0 Coal engine of 1885.  The model is an ex Acme kit by Haycock, rebuilt by Nigel Smith.


The narrow gauge facility is based on the Cliff Hill Mineral line and the Bagnall O-4-O “Primrose tank” which is typical of the line that terminated at the loading facility between Baron Hill and Ellis Town on the Leicester to Burton Line. The narrow gauge was replaced by road vehicles after WW2.


The sheds and turntable aren’t big enough to accommodate half of the collection, but there’s enough room to provide for most of the day to day running. A number of Stanier six coupled tank locos appear at the shed, with a 3P 2-6-2T No 79 to the left, built at Derby in 1935 and allocated to Coalville shed (17C). The model is an ex Chowbent kit with an RG7 Portescap motor/G box, built by Peter Silvester and painted and lined by Ian Rathbone. At centre is Fowler 4P 2-6-4T No 2333 built at Derby in 1929. This worked Leicester to Burton trains throughout the 1930s. The model is an ex JM kit with an ABC/Mashima drive built by Nigel Smith and painted and lined by Ian Rathbone. To the right is a similar visiting Fowler 2-6-4T no 2416.


Tender engines would often need turning in readiness for other diagrams like longer distance traffic from other yards, so Chilton had to have a turntable. Dean Goods No2557 is readied to pick up loaded coal wagons from the colliery sidings.


The buildings at Chilton were part of a layout originally conceived by the late Carl Legg, and they came to me when the layout was dismantled. Paul Bambrick painted the summer sky for me to help the building stand out nicely, and the post office van is from my collection of 7mm scale road and horse drawn vehicles.


The buildings at Chilton were part of a layout originally conceived by the late Carl Legg, and they came to me when the layout was dismantled. Paul Bambrick painted the summer sky for me to help thebuildig stand out nicely, and the post office van is from my collection of 7mm scale road and horse drawn vehicles.

Additional detail views

The return curve features a light stone single track viaduct, and we have completely reworked this area of the layout. This view is of a small section of the new 2D backscene which has now been installed, showing an Exmoor farm with gentle moorland beyond, along with the addition of some modelled tree growth on the slopes of the Ayon valley.

This pair of single decker buses were scratch built for Chilton by Barrie Kelsall. The prototypes were built as 34 seaters in 1930 – 1932 and served the Midland Red until 1950.

One of the many road vehicles that appear around the layout, with a hay barn also visible behind the fence. There are quite enough subjects to provide material for a feature, without even noticing the railway. In this view, one of the Pickfords heavy horses is having a stone removed from it’s shoe.

Chilton station only has one platform, and is the next stop after the Aberayon terminus. It has a pair of sidings for coal wagons, a small ground frame signal cabin and a level crossing with a connecting bus services. The attractive red brick station building shown here was beautifully made by Carl Legg.

This March 1929 Derby built Fowler 4P-D 2-6-4T is one of a collection of L.M.S. & G.W.R. locomotives that appear at Aberayon. Buffered up to a tender locomotive, it waits to cross the main line, and couple up to its next passenger duty. The model is a JM KIt made by Nigel Smith, and painted by Ian Rathbone.

The view looking away from Aberayon has been extended and adapted with a clouded sky to better match the moorland landscape between the terminus and Chilton.

Aberayon’s goods yard crane

G.W.R. cabin & existing rural backscene.

Bogie L.M.S. carriages at Aberayon

The Aberayon end of the viaduct has a road crossing the Ayon valley carried by a low level single arch bridge in grey stone, with more Exmoor farm buildings to the right.

A collection of hand written 6 and 7 plank open mineral wagons are shunted into their sidings by a pair of small industrial tank locomotives. The South Leicester wagons were weathered by Martyn Welch, and the Frank Butt wagon is by John Petcher.

Two of the storage roads surrounding the turntable are occupied by Great Western locomotives, and in this view, we can just see the single line with Its fixed distant signal as it rounds the curve behind them. We have included a small tarred barn with a slate roof at a reduced scale on the new backscene, surrounded by a row trees behind the lineside fence.

L.M.S. branch line train, with a narrow gauge industrial line just visible through the second arch running along the riverbank.

Moorland appears behind a cultivated field to the right.

L.M.S. bogie brake third, built to L.N.W.R. Diagram 345 waits in Aberayon’s platform road, coupled to a Lav composite. The rake was made by John Petcher as 1890 build stock, with the standard arc roof, presented here in the L.M.S. period 1 livery.

I still have more work to do between the viaduct and Aberayon station, so there will be yet another prepared batch of trees and some more undergrowth needed before my next work session. These foreground trees briefly interrupt our view of the trains, while the diffused overhead lighting prevents any unrealistic shadows casting onto the rear panel.