Blackgill Buildings-Alistair Ford

Part of ‘a Flavour of Scalefour North

This very brief article describes the construction of the timber buildings on Blackgill, which are based on prototypes across the North Eastern Railway system. The NER adopted timber as a construction material for its small and medium stations in the 1880s and it was employed on every station on the Annfield Plain branch of 1897. Since the fictitious location of Blackgill is on this line, I wanted to represent a range of these timber buildings on the layout.

To construct these structures in model form I was very fortunate to obtain some sheets of timber clapboard from the USA, produced by Northeastern Scale Lumber .The plank spacing is 2mm, with the sheets 2mm thick and 75 mm wide. Panel sections of clapboard were marked out and then cut to size for each section of the building.

Photo 1: Sections of clapboard cut to size for Blackgill signal box (based on Beamish).

Strips of 2 x 3 mm timber were then glued to panels where necessary using PVA glue and set in a clamp until dry. This represented the timber frame used in construction of the buildings.

Photo 2: Clamped and glued timber sections.

Some variations in construction was necessary, as in the platform shelter in Photo 3, which incorporated vertical panelling on the front portion and timber framework for the glazed sections. This was constructed using balsawood sheets, scored to simulate planks.

The main station building, based on that at West Stanley station on the branch, was a major undertaking. These buildings, typical of the line, were large and complex wooden structures. The station building on Blackgill is also fully detailed internally, with furnished rooms and interior lighting.

Photo 4: Blackgill station building and signal box, both based on prototype timber buildings.

Roof sections are plain planked sheet with the same sheet dimensions as the wall material, with wooden internal trussing provided where necessary. The slate roof tiles are represented by 5mm-deep paper strips with notches at 2.5mm intervals and 2.5mm deep. The tile strips were glued onto the roof panels in an overlapping fashion using impact adhesive and when dry painted with a 50/50 mixture of Humbrol Matt 67/79 paint.

Photo 5: Blackgill engine shed, showing the slate tiles to good effect.

Glazing for the buildings was made from old clear CD cases cut to size, with glazing bars made from thin obechi wood sheet. This was cut into 1mm wide strips and attached to double-sided tape before being painted the relevant colour (in most cases cream). When dry the strips were applied to the glazing and up to now, 15 years later, none have fallen off!

Photo 6: Blackgill signal box, showing the glazing created with the process above.

Finally, the buildings were painted the appropriate colour scheme. All the timber buildings on the layout, except Blackgill box, are painted in the old LNER scheme of cream and dark green that was used before the adoption of the later BR sky blue and white colours.

Photo 7: Blackgill yard office, in the old LNER cream and dark green colour scheme.

I hope this article has given you an insight into the way the timber buildings on Blackgill were constructed, and the many hours taken to bring this period of NER history to life on the layout.

Photo 8: some of Blackgill’s timber buildings in situ on the layout