The Children’s Layout

The children’s layout was built on a 6ft by 4ft board divided into 3 sections for ease of transport. It comprises two ovals of track, with one siding.

The board in its early stages, showing the three sections

Once the board had been cleared, we used the Woodland Scenics track underlay as the foundation for the track. It was very easy to use and formed a perfect base on which to lay the track. First of all, we marked out the centre line of the track. It was straightforward to lay the Woodland Scenics track base on the straight sections. When laying the curves, we marked the centre line of the track and then cut the Woodland Scenics track bed along its centre line, laying half first to match the centerline marked on the board and the second half afterwards. This way your trackbed matches the layout of the track perfectly. Very quick, very simple.

Locating the buildings on the layout

The next job was to lay out the buildings to get a rough idea of what the overall layout would look like. That allowed us to space the buildings wide enough to put in a road way and to mark out the farmyard area. The roadway was made simply out of thin card painted with a darker grey, asphalt type colour. The pavements were thin strips of card painted a lighter grey colour. The scenic areas were covered in scatter of various shades, roughed up a bit using fingers to give a more natural look. Finally, the track was ballasted to finish off the layout. There is still much work that can be done to add details such as fencing, hedges and other scenic accessories. However, we wanted to have the layout ready for the children to enjoy at FebEx 2020.

Laying out the roadway
Marking out the farmyard

The layout was on display in the canteen area, for children to run and control the trains by themselves. It was a great success; the children enjoyed running both the freight train and the express train, giving the parents a brief respite. The children particularly liked the Flying Scotsman locomotive. However, unfortunately, it did not navigate the curves very well de-railing from time to time. This particular model had a fixed rear Pony, giving it a longer wheelbase, which may have been the problem. We replaced it with a GWR County of Bedford locomotive, with a smaller wheel base and that performed excellently. Most of the children tended to run the trains at full speed, however, some wanted to try to use the siding to manoeuvre trains in and out. The points were manually operated, adding to the interactive feature of layout.

The finished layout at FebEx 2020

It is a very basic layout but I feel a good starting point for children to enjoy the hobby.

About the author

Paul Gembidge

I have always enjoyed the practical side of life and as a child, I used to enjoy making models. However, as an adult, my practical skills were directed more towards the necessities of DIY and working on classic cars. On my retirement, I had the opportunity to re-discover my enjoyment of making models. A serendipitous meeting with a long-standing member of Alton Model Railway Group (AMRG) and my desire to make up for the fact that I never had a model train set as a child, led to my joining AMRG and building my first layout. Having no background in railways or modelling them, it has been a steep learning curve but the members of the club have been extremely tolerant and a wonderful and diverse source of support. Many thanks to the club and its members.