Fairlight Works

Official blog of the High Weald Light Railway (1977) Co. Ltd.

Inspiration – Gwynant Valley

inspiration model-railways narrow-gauge

After writing about the classic 009 layout Dovey Valley a couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about other narrow gauge layouts that have inspired me over the years and led – directly or indirectly – to the modelling I do today. So I’m going to write an “occasional series” of blog posts about them, or at least as many as I can remember.

Gwynant Valley Railway
Single Fairlie Taliesin and Welsh Pony meet at Tan-y-Graig. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Savage and © Railway Modeller/Brian Monaghan

First up is Malcolm Savage’s 5.5mm scale layout, Gwynant Valley, which appeared in the Railway Modeller in October 1984. At the time I was seven years old, and had just returned from a summer holiday in North Wales where we rode on the recently completed Ffestiniog Railway. These two events cemented the appeal of the narrow gauge in my mind and I guess were the original catalyst to taking up railway modelling seriously and NG specificially.

At the time I remember being aware of the concept of “kits”, I may have tried my hand at a plastic Ratio wagon or two by then, but I don’t think I fully understood the sheer quantity and quality of scratchbuilding that went in to Gwynant Valley. What I did know was that it “looked right” compared to the real thing I had just seen, and I wanted a piece of that. I think I even considered writing to Jim’ll Fix It, probably thinking he could just produce a 1:55 double Fairlie from one of the contraptions in his chair. Whatever, I owe it a lot.

Gwynant Valley Railway
Garratt K1 and Penrhyn loco Charles on shed as a Welshpool & Llanfair loco shunts. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Savage and © Railway Modeller/Brian Monaghan

So, 24 years later, I have a couple of 5.5mm scale kits and a vague plan to build a simple layout in the scale to show them off. I’m even in contact with Malcolm through the 5.5mm Association, which was set up in the wake of the Railway Modeller series of articles to build awareness of the scale.

As for Gwynant Valley itself, apparently it met a slightly less than glorious end when a cat took a fancy to the polystyrene scenery after the layout was sold to a Ffestiniog volunteer. Its spiritual successor, Llugwy Valley, lives on on the exhibition circuit.