When I discovered the pictures of Monkton Farleigh wartime armaments store over at Subterranea Britannica I was immediately drawn to them. It was impossible not to want to come up with some kind of concept for a layout. The thought of something top secret and underground was fascinating. What must have gone on here during the war years? As I looked at more pictures the more I felt I had to produce a design.
When you think about it an underground storage facility is a perfect subject for a small layout. Cramped facilities, small rooms, tight curves. What more could you ask for?
This model is inspired by the picture that grabbed me the most. the sorting yard at the foot of the cable worked incline from the surface.

The Inspiration Box. Sites and images to help put this design in context

Monkton Farleigh at Subterranea Brittanica - the picture and the site that started me off

Secret Undergroond Cities - incredibly detailed site about this facility and other similar ones too, put together by Nick McCamley

Underground Kent - another excellent selection of photographs

BBC Wiltshire -Nick McCamley describes how he discovered Monkton Farleigh

1:32 or 1:35 - a site that explains the pros and cons. A recommended read.

(click on image to see larger version)
I broke my "No trackplan" rule
When you look at the design sketch you will notice I've added a trackplan. In this case I thought it was necessary as I needed to show you how I envisioned the fiddle yard working on this model. I have planned for a "lazy susan" turntable with removeable cassettes as I used on the Apple Valley Light Railway. The short trains, most likely no longer than a foot in length, could then be easily changed out behind the scenes. The trackplan is not to scale, so dont try scaling it up to see what size the model could be.
Operation on the model could be quite intensive.Wagons loaded with munitions would come down the rope worked incline, very probably one at a time for safety purposes. When the wagon reaches the bottom of the slope a small shunting loco would marshall the the wagon in one of the two sidings either side of the incline road assembling short trains to be hauled off to all parts of the complex. There are two directions a train could take. Along the front of the layout, rounding that 6" radius curve then disappearing through the blast doors off scene, or along the diagonal corridor and through some more blast doors. The function of the blast doors on this model being to hide the lazy susan fiddle yard. Reverse operations would also be true munitions would come out of storage to be take out to RAF bases over the country.
If you wanted to add an extra random element to the operation you could roll a dice for each wagon when it arrives at the bottom of the incline. If the dice rolls an odd number put it in the top siding. An even number and the wagon goes in the bottom siding. Once you reach 3 wagons in a siding, a loco hauls them away.
What on earth is 1:35n2?
In this case, with the incredible amount of military modelling figures and accessories available in 1:35 scale I'd suggest creating this layout in1:35n2. If you were to use 16.5mm gauge track then the gauge would scale up to two feet.
1:35 scale is an incredibly popular scale for military modelllers. Tanks, soldiers and all kinds of acessories are produced. There is just so much material out there for the military modeller that it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
This would mean a certain amount of scratchbuilding for locos and wagons. But there are a few wartime railway models suitable for this project produced by Scalelink in 1:32 scale. A scale which is a tiny bit bigger. If you're interested and want to learn more about 1:32 or 1:35 scale modelling I'd suggest checking out the site listed in the Inspiration Box.
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