BR Totem: Deepcar


1500V dc Electrification in 4mm scale

First exhibited in 1991, Deepcar is one of only a very few layouts to feature scale working (but only at 12V dc, in our case!) overhead electrification and is, to our knowledge, the only one to feature the 1500V DC system. The layout was built by a group of members of the Nottingham (Bulwell) Model Railway Society. All of the overhead electrification system is scratchbuilt and is as close to scale as possible. It is even electrically live, being connected to the common return. Electric locomotives are fitted with working pantographs and can draw their current from the overhead (though most also draw it from the running rails as well, to avoid having to add Overhead Line Equipment to the whole fiddle yard). The layout is built to a scale of 4mm:1ft, using 16.5mm gauge track (OO gauge).

Model railway layout, with a Japanese Bullet Train to the left.

Deepcar being exhibited in the National Railway Museum, York

The layout is based on the station of the same name on the Woodhead route, just to the West of Sheffield. The real Deepcar station was closed many years ago, but the platforms and buildings remained long after closure of the station. The Woodhead route became freight-only in 1970, except for a limited DMU service to Penistone and Huddersfield, but an intensive freight service was operated over the line right up to its closure as a through route in 1981. Deepcar was the junction for the Stocksbridge Railway, a private line that ran from Deepcar to a nearby steelworks. The steelworks was still in operation until 2021, when it was put up for sale. A single (unelectrified) track still runs to Deepcar to connect with this line. A few freight trains operated to Deepcar carrying scrap inwards and taking away the finished steel. However, this traffic ended in September 2022, and the future of the line is in doubt.

Our model represents the station as it was in the period from about 1965 to 1981; the Stocksbridge railway is also featured, allowing an interesting variety of industrial locomotives and wagons to be run. The Stocksbridge Steelworks exchange sidings and the line to the slag tip are included. In addition to through trains on the main lines, trip workings from Tinsley run to Deepcar and are shunted by the resident pilot. Stocksbridge railway locomotives then take the wagons to the steelworks. In the reverse direction, wagons loaded with finished steel and empty scrap wagons are returned to the exchange sidings for remarshalling by the BR pilot. A 76 then returns the train to Tinsley. Whilst this activity is taking place, a constant stream of internal user wagons are being hauled up and down the private line leading to the slag dump by a variety of industrial locomotives. This, then, is a typical scheme for operation of the layout.

Deepcar has always been a popular layout, and appeared at the 2011 Nottingham East Midlands Model Railway Exhibition as part of a themed grouping of Woodhead route layouts in 2mm, 4mm, and 7mm scales. It also featured in Hornby Magazine in the March 2011 issue. Additionally, the following articles have appeared in the model railway press over the years:

‘Deepcar’, Railway Modeller – March (background, baseboards and track, and scenery) and April (catenary, structures, etc.) 1991.

British Railway Modelling – March 1994.

Rail Express – March 1998 (The Locomotives of Deepcar).

Railway Modeller – March 2002.

For further information related to Deepcar, please consult the following links:

The Don Valley Railway Project

The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway (Railscot)