The second world war threw up some very interesting and unique ideas for rail sytems. We've just discovered the Underground Armaments store at Monkton Farleigh. Another little known rail system was at Manod (Now Cwt-y-Bwgail) quarry, near Blaneau Festiniog in North Wales. Manod was one of two places in the country used to store the countries Art treasures during the second world war. The other being Westwood quarry near Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. Both had rail systems in there at some time. Pictures seem to suggest that the line was only there during the construction of Westwood.
This design would certainly be a very different slant on your commonplace run of the mill North Wales narrow gauge model railway layouts. Not that I'm knocking the many excellent models of North Wales slate railways.

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

Manod - Dave Sallerys excellent Penmorfa website has this section devoted to the history of Manod.

Underground cities - Nick McCamley again with pictures of both Manod and Westwood quarry. The other watime store.

BBC Wales - superb history piece from the familiy of someone who worked there along with contemporary pictures

National gallery - an all too brief outline of the wartime Art treasure storage project.

Sketch of the cavern
(click on image to see larger version)

Sketch of the cavern entrance
(click on image to see larger version)
Operating this would be interesting. Traffic would pretty well be seen to be all one way. Into the mine for storage. The railway system had some very interesting bogie railvehicles that were able to carry the large paintings into storage. Scratchbuilding these vehicles would add a lot to the model.
Totally breaking with convention I've made this an inside/outside layout. Like I've cut a hole in the mountainside to expose the interior. You can see the train approach from the l/h side. It then turns a corner and enters into the first cavern inside the mountain. Where there is a siding leading off to one of the storage buildings that were built inside the caverns. I suggest that this line might exit backstage through a hole in the cave wall, hidden by the storage building. So that you might simulate some kind of loading/unloading of the wagons. A wagon would enter that building with its doors closed signifyng that it is loaded and might reappear later with the doors open showing it to be empty. If you wanted to take a slightly unprotypical view you could have some flat wagons loaded with model statues. Full flat wagons would go into storage and empty ones would re appear The line then exits the scene to travel deeper into the mountainside and further storage caverns.
Model the inside and outside of the scene?
Why not. When I was developing this design from a simple oval it was apparent that I was only using half the sides for viewing. I needed to hide one side for the fiddle yard that meant the third side was wasted hidden track. Then I remembered a very early design I'd produced (seen on Microlayout for model railways) called the Migraine Mine. I'd drawn that as Inside/outside, so why not this one. I can't recall having seen such an arrangement on a layout before. Perhaps there's a reason. It would certainly make for interesting viewing. A word of warning these slate caverns can be huge places, some of which could quite easily hold famous London landmarks like Saint Pauls Cathedral. The smaller narrow gauge scales are probably more suited to this model so that the roof of the cavern could tower over the buildings.
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