If you would like to come along then please contact Scalefour Society members Steve Ridgway or Ian Spalding

 The club has OO, N and O gauge layouts in various stages of construction but our group, whose P4 project is Clarendon, originally started on the EM layout Walford.  Walford was a great learning project for many of us and is still highly regarded as a modern image period layout.  However, it has been on the exhibition circuit for over 12 years (appearing in MRJ Number 70) and it was obvious that we needed a new project.  As most of our group had P4 aspirations, P4 had to be the way to go but what should the project be?  About five years ago, we held a number of meetings of the potential members which revealed what we all probably knew anyway – that we all had allegiances to different companies and eras and could find no common ground.

 It was during this time that I had been building my first P4 loco and wanted somewhere to try it out.  So I began wiring up two boards of P4 trackwork from a layout that Steve Ridgway had started over 20 years ago and yes, you’ve guessed, our P4 layout evolved from this test track.  The original idea had been to use this layout as a test bed for trying out different methods of building and laying track.  The plan was to take the two boards, which represented a two platform station, and add a goods yard, factory siding and loco yard.  As space in our old club rooms was limited, the layout became a 14’ x 12’ L-shape with fiddle yard and was known as the “Intermediate Layout” as it was seen as a step towards something, as yet undefined, in the future.  However, after a year of building boards, laying track and wiring, John Gowers suggested that we should, really, make this into a proper exhibition layout and so Clarendon was born, being named after the street where our old club premises were situated in Leamington.  The track plan can be seen at Clarendon.

 As John was an LNWR fan, and he seemed to have most stock (well, half-built stock), it was decided to make the layout a joint branch line in the West End of London based mainly on LNWR practices circa 1908.  It was situated off the West London Railway mainly because this gave us the excuse to run many different companies, an idea we had picked up from researching Addison Road as a potential layout (regrettably dismissed as being too big).  So LNWR, LSWR, GWR, LBSCR and others were all potential companies which at least satisfied most of our group – except for those in the BR era!

 We continued serenely on until one of our group, Steve Lee (of Grafton fame), was asked by Mike Peascod at Scaleforum 1997 what he was building after Grafton and Steve mentioned Clarendon.  We thus received an invite to Scaleforum 1998 and a slight air of panic set in for two reasons: firstly, the layout needed a lot of work before it could run even a half reasonable sequence reliably at an exhibition; and secondly, the club had just been told that it would have to move out of its then premises.

 So, during the summer before Scaleforum, after we left the clubrooms, our group moved the layout into my garage while the rest of the club layouts went into storage.  It was certainly cosy for a few months but at least we managed to make some progress and this was helped by a weekend away with the layout at the local Birdingbury Festival, arranged by another of our members, Andy Westcott.  Scaleforum 1998 itself was a demanding weekend as the sequence, provided by Derek Spicer, was new and much of the stock had had little previous running (apart from the stock which came from Grafton).  Still, there was a lot of interest from the visitors in the layout, even in its part-built state, and we could see that there was potential.

 It was at Scaleforum that I attended the Area Group meeting, thus announcing our existence and that we were willing to be a focus for Scalefour activities in our area – after all, we had virtually every Scalefour member in the South Warwickshire area (and some of our members even come from outside the county).  After Scaleforum we moved into our new clubrooms, which has a lot more space, and work continued on the layout initially on improving the running.

 There are now 12 of us in the Clarendon group, of which most of us are members of the Scalefour Society (we are working on the others!).  In order to provide some focus for the layout activities, we introduced a “gaffer” system where one person is responsible for organising a main activity as follows: baseboards and permanent way, Steve Ridgway; signals, John Gowers (see John’s superb signal box in MRJ Number 101); overall design of site and buildings, Trevor Edwards; CME, Steve Lee; timetable and historical perspective, Derek Spicer; people and road vehicles, Judith Crockford, and electrical, myself.  Others who are contributing are Pete Bettany (lighting, shops and hand-built LNWR buffer stops), Tim Crockford (coaling stage), Andy Westcott  (fiddle yard and cassettes) and Andi Nethercoat.  Richard Harper, who made many of the fine buildings on Walford, made the station buildings which are based on those which used to be on the NLR at Canonbury (only the old station master’s house is now left - see pictures on the Clarendon web page).

 The layout has now appeared at many more shows and the layout in its current state is nearing completion. However,  now that we are in new premises with more space we are discussing an extension to the layout to include carriage and coal sidings. Therefore there are opportunities for others to join in or just to come and visit and new joiners would be most welcome.

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