Sunday, November 10, 2019

Goodbye to Stoney Hill Yard

Stoney Hill Yard on display.

This summer I took down the M & M Sub. It prompted interesting conversations with other modellers who have either taken down their own layouts, or know they need to some day soon. Like this update from Chris Round in Great Britain, who shared about taking apart his first foray into Canadian modelling.

After visiting southern Ontario in 1994, I became hooked on Canadian railways.

Living in the United Kingdom, we do not have the space for large basement railways. As a result, I had become a dedicated N gauge modeller and had produced several successful layouts of the British scene.

But Canada in HO scale quickly had me hooked, both for more interesting operation and for much smoother running of the actual models.

By 1996 I had completed Stoney Hill Yard, a portable exhibition layout 16-feet long with a fiddle yard at the rear. It was very successful and had many invitations to exhibitions.

As built, it was a stub end yard, but I had allowed for expansion. By 2000 Stoney Hill West had been produced as the other end of the yard with an extended staging yard to make a complete oval. 

The combined layout was 29 feet long.

I took it to several shows, but both transport and size limited the number of exhibitions it could attend.

Subsequently, Stoney Hill West was made into a stand-alone layout, and gradually became the main layout I exhibited.

In 2017 Stoney Hill Yard was exhibited for the last time. After that, it gathered dust in my father-in-law’s garage since space in my workshop was taken up by my new layout, Atherley Narrows.

I have a lot of affection for Stoney Hill Yard. It took a lot of effort to build and attracted a lot of favourable comments at exhibitions. 

It was difficult to think about letting it go. But a number of factors came together which made me finally decide to dismantle the layout.

First, a couple of fellow members at our model railway club recently died. I helped their wives dismantle their layouts and sort through a lifetime of collected models, books and other railway paraphernalia.

The sheer amount of stuff made it difficult for the wives and I thought that I would not want my family to have to sort through all of my possessions in similar circumstances.

I was also struck by the large number of uncompleted or even unopened boxes of model railway bits and pieces we all keep. 

It caused me to start getting rid off anything which used to fall under the category of “I’ll keep it, it might well be useful sometime.”

Second, my father-in-law is now 90 years-old and mobility is an issue for him. The layout in his garage was an additional obstacle to manoeuvre round.

I won’t pretend making the first move to demolish the layout was not difficult. But now that it’s gone, I do feel like a bit of the burden has been lifted.

In the end, it’s better not to hold onto everything. We need to let go and move on.

Plus, I still have two exhibition layouts and a workshop full of stuff, and hopefully at least 20 years ahead of me to slim it all down—so my family is not faced with sorting out a complete mess when I go.

Chris watching a train on Stoney Hill Yard,
which is still going strong.

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