One of the joys of building a layout of a prototype is finding a structure that either no drawings exist of, or the photos are very “one sided”. Up to press I have been fairly successful as the station is well documented in the Foxline books and the NRO at Kew have been a good source of drawings. However a few areas continue to baffle, the coal yard for a start, and the subject of this article, New Hey station’s footbridge.
For starters no drawings exist. All the usable photos are taken from the Huddersfield Rd. bridge and do not give much clue to detail, the ones from the Oldham side tend to be distant and indistinguishable shots. However I have one photo from the Jim Peden collection which gives some detail of one corner o the bridge. It also quickly became apparent that this was not some standard L and Y kit of parts and very much a one off, and I have certainly not come across any similar footbridges in pictures. The one saving grace appeared to be the two bridge piers – they seemed to be a standard L and Y type. I found drawings in the LMS architecture book of Milnrow footbridge (the next station down the line in the Rochdale direction) and this confirmed my supposition. It also gave me some critical dimensions to work from.
Using this data and the available photographs I was able to scale off the dimensions and produce a working drawing. Next up was to decide how to build it – brass section seemed to obvious solution but even using a resistance soldering unit I could see problems with bits springing off as there are so many small individual components. Uppermost though was the need for strength in construction – the track underneath has to be cleaned and inevitably hands will knock it, many years of exhibiting layouts has taught me this lesson the hard way. The game plan therefore was a brass section framework with plastruct section infill parts.
The construction is of T and L sections of brass and plastruct and commenced with all the brass work. The initial frame – the top rails and the pier uprights were put together first. The end and middle stays of the actual overbridge part were put in as well at this point. So far so good, simple bends and soldering. But in the back of my mind a problem lay ahead – the actual staircases. I pressed ahead with the two basic frames on either side but quickly came to the decision point. Fortunately salvation lay ahead in the shape of an old etched brass footbridge kit, the provenance of which shall remain nameless, but suffice to say if anyone needs any odd (and I mean odd) parts belonging to a railway company in the west of England that is not the L and Y then I have some.
To be honest I’d started this kit when I’d just embarked on the black art of soldering and its isn’t my best – I tried a bit of a rebuild for New Hey as some fancy overlays had to come off the sides, and it’s OK, but only just. However, it was the correct dimensions and any port in a storm, plus it enabled me to put the two sides together and put some strength into the structure. The main staircases went on next and the whole thing looked at for squareness – this needed some minor adjustments but nothing radical. By this point I could see the end of the soldering job in sight, and the main staircase frames were added and the main stays in between as well out of brass. By this point I was reasonably pleased – I had also used the etched decking in the old kit and it looked fine, despite the burnt fingers from trying to hold it in place whilst I soldered (no I couldn’t get it to clamp with hairgrips / clips etc) but then again one has to suffer for one’s art doesn’t one!
Next up was the boring bit, the plastruct infills. Once cut to length they were superglued in place, a fiddly and awkward job. I did wonder about using brass and the RSU again but the proximity of multiple joints to the piece of work, plus cutting all that section soon convinced me otherwise. Anyway several hours later I arrived at photo 3 and 4 – the longitudinal guard rails are microstrip. The feeling of relief at this stage was palpable – it was done, all that remained was the etched treads to glue on the staircase and to paint the thing!!
I used grey car primer as a main coat, it is about right, but then used weathering powders in grey, rust and black to achieve that sort of used / lived in look.