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Owner: TBC Awaiting Image
Date Commenced: Pre 1990
Scale: P4
Track Gauge: 18.83mm
Size: TBC


Spital is a 4mm Scale@1foot/(1:76.2) model built to a track gauge of 18.83 mm and P4 standards. It was originally constructed in the early 1980's by the South West Durham Area Group of the Scalefour Society, and further information on working to these standards are given in the next paragraph. Cleveland Model Railway Club became custodians of this model in the late 1990's and completed remedial work to bring the scenery to life once more; even 'colourfast' scenics fade after fifteen plus years including storage in a garage!

Before we go any further, an explanation about P4 track and wheel standards would be appropriate. In 1978 I moved to Sunderland to work and bought my first residence (a flat!) close to Durham City. Being somewhat removed from my normal social circles, I looked at railway modelling again. I found that the finer wheel standards I used were not fully compatible with so-called universal flexible trackwork and doing a few mathematical calculations showed that in model form we have to work to a set of standards for wheels and clearances for pointwork.

By chance, the contact details for the local Area Group of the Scalefour Society appeared in the Railway Modeller at that time, and I became a member and was introduced to 18.83 mm as the correct track gauge in 4mm:1 foot scale, together with a set of standards for wheelsets and track construction. Proportionately, rolling stock was correct, and running would be much more reliable provided that construction accurately followed the tables for trackwork and wheels.

To be fair, modern 'OO' gauge ready-to-run models are now produced to compatible wheel and track standards and are far advanced in quality and accuracy to those of twenty years ago... although 16.5mm gauge will always scale at 4 feet 1.5 inches!!

Layout Development.
From the original intentions of producing a test track for locomotives and stock, Spital was developed to represent an imaginary location on the Stainmore route between Darlington and Tebay. Stainmore is perhaps one of the most remote and desolate high moorland areas of Northern England, and the intentions were to present the bleakness of the Northern Pennines as a framework for the railway in model form. Operational and scenic interest was added with the inclusion of a small goods yard, coal cells and stone loading facilities from an off-scene quarry. The continuous run would allow sequential operation of trains representative of those to be found on the route.


The bill for the proposed Stainmore route was passed in Parliament in 1857, and that for the Eden Valley Route which left the Stainmore Line at Kirkby Stephen and reached Penrith was passed in the following year. Both opened to traffic in 1861 and operated by the North Eastern Railway from 1863. Oxford Publishing Co produced a book on the history of these two lines written by Peter Walton in 1992. Spital had already been on the exhibition circuit for several years prior to this first publication and relied upon the personal research of the original S4 Area Group members and their friends and contacts!

The original forces driving the proposals for the link between the Durham Coalfields and the Haematite Iron Ore deposits in the West understandably had business interests in these two industries. The East had coal in Durham and poorer quality ironstone in the Cleveland Hills. To be able to economically transport coke from East to West would be essential for the development of the iron and steel industry in the West around Barrow and Whitehaven, whilst high quality ore could find its way eastwards for the established industries around the Tees and Middlesbrough.

This then formed the backbone of revenue earning services on the Stainmore Route. However, the route did open up possibilities for cross country passenger traffic, and this was enhanced and further developed immediately prior to the First World War with increasing tourist traffic. For example, there were trains from Darlington to Keswick via Penrith and Blackpool via Tebay. Trains to convalescent centres for miners from the Durham coalfields were also a feature of operations. In addition, when you take account of the normal goods traffic to serve some of the remote areas, livestock movement and traffic generated from stone quarries, a wide variety of stock movement would have been seen over the line.

From an engineering point of view, the route had some impressive stone and steel built structures; possibly the most well known was the Belah Viaduct. This tubular steel built viaduct spanned a valley on the West side of the Pennines and was over 1000 feet long and almost 200 feet high in its centre. Sadly, this monument to both the engineers and the iron and steel workers of the 19th Century was demolished within two years of the lines closure in January 1962.

Feature of the model.
Whilst the location is fictitious, structures have been built to represent buildings found in the northern area of the Pennines. The signal cabin is central to the layout and is a model of Belah box and was constructed by Dave Myers. He also built all the signals which are based upon North Eastern Railway Southern Division practice with slotted posts and lower quadrant arms. Surprisingly, many of these survived on the prototype to the bitter end. Pictures of the passing loop at Stainmore Summit show point rodding covered in timber # as protection from the weather, and this is represented on the model.

Westwards from this box is another distinctive feature in the form of a model of 'Timber Overbridge 120' which was produced by Bob Bourne... from timber sections! Behind this is a dales barn based upon one in Upper Weardale to the East of the Pennines. The stonework is produced from DAS modelling clay hardened into strips and broken individual pieces. This was completed by Eric Colling who produced the enormous lengths of stone walling using the same technique.

Close inspection of the stone walling will reveal that two continuous parallel rows jut out from the sides; this is typical and peculiar to dry stone walling in this area. Fencing is produced from wood strip and is based upon the NER five bar design for linesides.

The coal cells were constructed using a drawing of those at Haltwhistle and used scribed plaster on a wood framework with timber for the fencing and staging. Embossed plastic sheet was used for the bridges, which are not based upon any particular design.

Dave Myers originally devised the electrical wiring plan for the model and fortunately this was all written down and diagrammed for future reference! The original intention was for the operation to be in accordance with the setting of the signals in a prototypical fashion. This can be compared with 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre' but 'set the road, clear the signal(s) and proceed'! To this end, there is a certain amount of electrical interlocking between the points and signals. This ensures that a signal cannot be pulled to clear before the route is correctly set. This adds to the operational interest of the layout and our aims to present historical accuracy when the layout is exhibited.

The model had been operated in its early years with a random mixture of stock reflecting a diversity of interests of the members of the group. To present the layout in a correct historical perspective, Ian Sadler joined the group and provided stock based on North Eastern Railway practice circa 1910.

When Cleveland Club became custodians of the model, it was their intention to use converted quality ready-to-run stock which had become available in the market to represent operation in early 1960's British Railways ownership. Whilst this has not yet been achieved (although the eventual completion of stock for the Picton Project will remedy this situation), Ian has continued to work with us and enables us to present Spital in its 1910 historical perspective, with additional stock from Dave Fenney. All stock has been fully researched, and only prototypes known to have worked in the area will be found in operation.

As well as producing his many models, Ian is the author of a book giving a detailed history of the development of goods brake vans by the North Eastern Railway. We thus know that Spital when exhibited presents an accurate historical snapshot of railway operations in the first ten years of the twentieth century in the North of England!