United Mills

Presented by Ray Nolton


United Mills represents a small industrial facility in West Fife somewhere in the Cowdenbeath/Kelty area in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s period.  Although the specific nature of the business deliberately remains vague, it revolves around the manufacture of metal castings and fabrications.  Life is growing harder for such concerns at this time, and the air of decay and dereliction is palpable, but the factory clings grimly on to its rail service due to the poor road access and the end cannot be too far away.  The factory’s own locomotives work some of the traffic up to the railhead with BR, but BR locomotives are regular visitors to this end of the line, bringing in and taking out a variety of traffic. 

I  have described this layout elsewhere as “my piece of nonsense”:  For instance why would a minor industrial branch have its own locomotives:  indeed more locos than you can shake a stick at and growing!  Easy:  its my train set AND it’s an escape from the strictures of modelling the North British Railway in 1883 on BURNTISLAND.  So: I make no excuses, it’s undeniably fun!

The layout started life as “Thorburns”, an Inglenook 5.3.3 design, and was acquired by me in 2017 as a bare board.  The layout was modern image and distinctly “Urban dereliction” in nature, which did not suit me hence the changes made subsequently.

As received, the layout was a simple block of foamboard with track and buildings.  I built up a carcase including proscenium, photo backscene and added fiddle yards at either end, hidden behind “wings” a la Rice “Cameo” principles.

Technical Details

Track:  Exactoscale

Point Actuation:  Manual “Blue Point” wire in tube

Control:  Gaugemaster Model W walkabout with control panel at front right.

Lighting:  LED strips warm and cool controllable

Uncouplers:  Gaugemaster electromagnets controlled through MOSFET relays

Track Plan

Scenic section is 6’ long by 1’9” deep. Total length 10’.

Left hand end showing entry from fiddle yard through overbridge and storage track
Centre section showing Mill building
Right hand end showing factory and workshop entry to fiddle yard

Rolling Stock

The rolling stock can be split into either “BR” or “United Mills” categories with the BR stock being as prototypically accurate for the area and timescale as possible.   Less so for the United Mills equipment however!  The locomotive stock is a mixture of kitbuilt and converted RTR items and the goods stock includes scratchbuilt vehicles as well, as befits my main interest in the hobby.