I was tidying up “my Docs” on the PC this afternoon when I came across the draft I wrote for a Railway Modeller article in 2009. As its quite lengthy I’ll blog it in two bits plus some of Ian Mandersons original photos from the article!


The old order meets the new – pic Ian Manderson

New Hey


Since I re-started my railway modelling some 30 years ago, one of my goals has been to build a prototype layout. My previous exhibition efforts although based on prototypes have never quite satisfied me as I always thought there was something maybe not quite right about them. What that was exactly is difficult to put my finger on, possibly the thought that anything dreamt up is not genuine. I had a few ideas of what I would like to build, and it had to include a typical Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway goods yard and attendant cotton warehouse! In an ideal world it would be the station where I grew up watching the railway, Shaw and Crompton, but as an exhibition layout it’s a non starter as it’s so big – about 6 feet wide. I had toyed with the idea of Waterfoot on the Bacup line but again to include the interesting bit for me, i.e. the goods shed and yard the layout would be far too long at some 44 feet!!


Part of the fascination behind this I suppose was this desire to build a big L and Y Cotton warehouse. Then about 6 years ago, coming back from the Expo EM North show at Slaithwaite on the Saturday, as I went over the railway bridge on Huddersfield Road New Hey, I realised the station to build was only 4 miles from my front door. Perhaps it was the “Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Cotton Warehouse” on the Accrington Brick goods shed which is now part of the New Hey Carpets factory which grabbed my attention and set the germ of the idea! Anyway, recourse to Jeff Wells’ book “Rochdale’s Railways” that night convinced me it was a good idea, and then Bill Hudson told me the following day that Jeff was bringing out a book on the Oldham loop line – I was sold, and research commenced. Perhaps the clincher was that the whole station layout could be contained within a15 foot frontage of baseboards without any compression, and two scenic breaks in the form of overbridges at either end. I also had an affinity with the station as in my childhood I quite often visited an Aunt and Uncle who lived just up Huddersfield Road from the station and always went and returned the one stop on the train from/to Shaw.  If I was feeling adventurous I’d take a train out the opposite direction from New Hey to Rochdale, have a grice round Rochdale Station and then return to Shaw.


New Hey itself is a small village just South East of Rochdale the main industry of which was, as with so many places in South East Lancashire, cotton spinning. In 1865 the railway from Manchester to Oldham was extended to meet the L and Y main line at Rochdale. The route took it north out of Oldham through Shaw, New Hey and Milnrow to Rochdale East junction. Initially at New Hey a small goods shed and yard was provided to the North side of the line but with the opening of new spinning mills such as the Ellenroad (the mill engine is preserved here and is open to visitors), the Coral and the Garfield, facilities were woefully inadequate and in 1912 the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway sanctioned the building of a new Cotton warehouse and sidings to the south of the station buildings. Business was brisk until after the Second World War when motor transport began to take cotton from Manchester docks to the cotton spinning towns. The goods yard was used well into the 1960s, particularly by the two local coal merchants, but the cotton industry was in terminal decline and by 1968 things had come to an end and the goods yard track was lifted. The station itself continued to be open for business, but there always seemed to be a threat hanging over the line, and eventually it was singled from Shaw to Rochdale East. However with the renaissance in rail travel and the cost of parking in Manchester the line has become well used again, although its days are numbered now as a main railway as it intended to replace the current Northern Rail services with the Metrolink tram system in the next two years.


Operationally in the period the line has been modelled, approx 1962 to 1968, it was a trainspotters delight with many different locos appearing, particularly in the local “Wakes weeks” with specials bringing in all sorts of exotic motive power. Basically anything that was shedded at Newton Heath would appear over time, from the small L and Y 0-6-0 Saddletanks right through to Brittanias and 9Fs. Typically specials working the line from Manchester would be double headed due to the gradients between Failsworth and Oldham and the records show many strange pairings of locos, with the train engine usually one of 26A’s Jubilees or Black 5s and the pilot being anything available at the time. All the locos that appear on the model ran on the line, and I have endeavoured to make sure they are in front of the trains they actually ran on. The line was dieselised early on for local passenger workings, previous to that it was a staple diet of 2-6-4 tanks, Standard, Fairburn and Stanier, then on to 104, 105 , 108, 110 DMUs. Freight and Parcels (on their way to Clegg Street PCD in Oldham) services were frequent and in the hands of all sorts of locos.  Viewers of the layout will notice steam and green diesel (classes 24, 25 and 40 with 37 and 47 occasional visitors) in abundance and will also see rail blue starting to sporadically appear.


Why EM gauge? Well I already had a lot of stock in EM and it seemed logical and right to proceed thus. I like the look of EM and have done a lot of modelling in it. A lot of my collaborators also model in EM so there was no choice really. Would I do it again in EM if I had a complete new start – the answer is I’m not really sure anymore. Would I do P4 – I’d love to but not a chance. One thing this layout has taught me is that as a one-man layout it’s a non-starter, far too much stock to do and it’s got to the stage where conversion even to EM is becoming a chore not a pleasure.  I’d  seriously considerdoing it in OO but exhibited even higher than the 42” above floor level  where the trackbed currently is, so that the narrow track gauge is not obvious as it will be at the average persons eye level when stood.

Part two to follow in a few days time


Black 5 on a block train. pic Ian Manderson