BR Totem: Carstairs

Carstairs made its debut at the East Midlands Model Railway Exhibition in March 2001, although the Law Junction section did appear at an earlier exhibition. It was subsequently exhibited at other major exhibitions up and down the country. It has since been dismantled.

The layout represented the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between Carstairs South Junction and Law Junction, in the southern uplands of Scotland. Featured were Carstairs and Law Junctions, and also Lanark Junction, where the Lanark branch leaves the main line. The line to Edinburgh diverges at Carstairs, where trains used to be split into the Glasgow and Edinburgh portions. Law Junction is where the mainly freight line to Mossend Yard leaves the Glasgow mainline.

Carstairs was originally started many years ago by the now defunct Riverside Railway Society in Essex, as a sequel to their High Gill layout. On the loss of their clubrooms in Tilbury Riverside Station, the Nottingham (Bulwell) MRS took it over and completed it.

One of the main features of the layout was the near-scale, authentic, and working (well, only at 12V DC, in our case!) Overhead Line Equipment (OHLE). This was based on typical WCML equipment in the area. The masts and gantries were scratchbuilt from brass sections using photographs of the actual full-size equipment. The conductor wire itself was 33swg nickel-silver and was held under tension by small coil springs located at intervals.

The layout could be exhibited in one of several periods, from the 1970s, with all the original AC electrics, Classes 81-85, to the 1990s, after the demise of the earlier types and the introduction of Classes 87 and 90.

The signalling system used mainly Eckon signals, but with some of the more complex ones being scratchbuilt. The signals were connected to control panels located around the layout, which were controlled remotely by either a computer or by a central main panel. The computer/main panel also read track circuits in the panels to locate the trains, then set the signals appropriately. The control system was called RPC.

Our speciality is the construction of near-scale, authentic, and working overhead electrification systems. As well as Carstairs, which featured 25kV AC electrification and computer control of the signals, our layouts also include Deepcar, which features the 1500V DC electrification of the Woodhead route.

Carstairs: Blue Class 85 on a tanker trainCarstairs: BR blue Class 85 on freight trainCarstairs: Mark 3 stock in Inter-city livery in the station