Monday, 19 December 2016

Highclere - The layout that never was?


Apologies for doing this at this time of the year, it has once again been on my mind now for a while and I wanted to open it upto friends to try and gauge others opinions....

For a while now I have been (once again!) thinking of scrapping the layout. Progress on it for a number of years now has been painfully slow and enthusiasm has been virtually non-existent. I have tried to put it into a number of pros and cons...

  • Its always been my best work, I have tried my best to recreate something.
  • I have invested nearly 10 years of work into the layout
  • Its what I am known for and a good example of my modelling abilities
  • It always seems to get invited to shows (even if I always turn them down!)
  • It gives me focus to my modelling
  • It takes up valuable space in my flat
  • I have no interest in taking it to shows or operating it, just building it
  • I cannot set it up at home so the only time I get to test it is at a show
  • Its not 100% my area of interest
  • I feel guilty if I work on things which aren't 'connected' to the layout somehow.
So, what do I do? As I mentioned above I don't have any real interest in the layout and haven't for a while now. I havnent got an alternative place to store it so its here semi-packed up in my hallway getting in the way as there is nowhere else I can pack it up. The thing is I cant really bring myself to throw it in a skip even where it seems clear to me it would be the right thing to do.

Thoughts, opinions, and ideas will be gratefully recieved...



  1. Hey Julia,

    don't skip it! thats insane! Most of your against sounds like for's to me!

    I have a storage unit in heathrow that your layout will fit in - you are welcome to store it there until you decide or get some enthusiasm back.


  2. Guy Hamilton-Fletcher19 December 2016 at 17:58

    I certainly agree with Gareth and I would suggest you put it to one side until either your enthusiasm returns or you feel you want to sell it on to someone else. As you allude to, throwing away something you have invested so much time in would be a real shame especially when it looks as good as highclere. All the best. Guy

    1. Guy Hamilton-Fletcher19 December 2016 at 17:59

      Sorry I meant to say Gary....

  3. Another vote against scrapping it. I know from personal experience that if your aren't really interested in it anymore then it will annoy you and stop you from doing modelling that you would enjoy. My feeling would be to offer it for sale and see what happens. That way it goes to someone who wants it, you get some space back, and some money you could reinvest in modelling you are interested in.

  4. Having been in a similar situation myself I know how you feel, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, but Highclere is such a great layout that it cannot be scrapped.

    I have read your blog entries over the years and marvelled at what you have managed to achieve and Highclere is a fantastic piece of modelling, far better than I or most could ever hope to realise.

    As I see it you have basically 4 options:
    1. Storage until your enthusiasm returns
    2. Get someone else involved who will help reinvigorate the project
    3. Sell on to some lucky soul
    4. Donate to a club or museum, where it will be operated and seen by many more people

    But whatever you decide, please don't scrap it.

    Best wishes,


  5. Highclere may be a good example of your modelling skills but is it really what you're known for? Or are you known for being a highly skilled finescale modeller who pushes the boundaries and also happens to have built a layout called 'Highclere'? To my mind it is your general attitude to modelling, not the layout, that defines you as a modeller.
    Personally I'd try to put it into storage. If you find that you don't look at it for 12 months then either sell it or salvage any usefull parts and scrap it.
    I suspect that your not alone in building a layout yet have little interest in operating.
    In the meantime how about a micro?

  6. Hi Julia,
    Like others, I would be sad to see you scrap this layout as I think it is lovely even though it's not my scale, I can still admire the skill that has gone into it. I'd be inclined to accept the kind offer of having it stored and see how you feel about it after six months or a year of not seeing it.
    By way of getting some wheels turning in the meantime, I'd certainly have some sort of "plank" or test track.
    Also, I'd say you are known as being a highly skilled, capable modeller - way outside of just being the builder of Highclere.
    All the best with this.

  7. Certainly if it's too big for your flat, then think about making something smaller that you can run and enjoy. It is supposed to be a hobby, not a burden.

    But I wouldn't scrap it. If you really decide to let it go, then pass it on to someone else who can make use of it.

  8. Julia,
    As much as it would be a shame to see Highclere consigned to history, I can understand your plight. If you have no interest in it (and it seems to me that any interest has really been lacking for some time) then perhaps it is time to get rid of it. After all what we are doing is supposed to be a hobby and pleasurable pastime and not something that feels like an onerous task!
    However, I do feel that it would be a shame to send it to the council tip. Perhaps an advertisement in the next couple of issues of the 2mm Magazine offering it for sale would allow someone else to take on your project who would have both the space and the enthusiasm to move it forward?
    Whatever you decide, I hope you make a choice that is right for you.

  9. Give the layout to a young modeler at the next show. Include a structure kit, a rolling stock kit, and a plan for "completing" the layout. Much better than the skip!

  10. These things happen, but don't despair. Best not to throw away (or preferably give away) your old layout until a new one is progressing well. The grass isn't always greener on the other side!

    What else are you thinking of doing? With your talent and experience I think you ought to try something really challenging and different. There's a whole world of railways out there to try. Don't just go with the crowd.

  11. Is there room to store it at the Oxford club Julia?
    I'd be inclined to put it aside for a while rather than scrap or sell and give yourself time to explore new ideas. I agree with others that it's a hobby not a calling. Personally I see you more as a modeller who is always wanting to advance things rather than for your layout. The approach I would take is to give some thought about what really motivates you and gives YOU pleasure in terms of prototype, geography, types of trains, period etc etc and the answers will come from there. I also feel that our modelling is an art form and an expression of ourselves. There will always be followers and critics, but the main thing is that you are happy with your work and what you are doing. We all enjoy having our work praised by peers and having a following. But this should not be the primary driver of your modelling choices, rather it's a bonus - if it happens at all. Getting others or another involved in Highclere whilst you explore other ideas is a good suggestion.

  12. Hi Julia -
    Lots of very valid comments above - but I'll add my two-penn'orth!

    a) Don't scrap it! It has become one of 2mm's 'signature layouts'. An 'off the wall' suggestion - try & interest (I bet it wouldn't be difficult) the planned 'Model Railway Museum' at Ashford in Kent. Whilst this was until recently a pipe-dream, it now has land allocated and (I think) some finances. This might mean some form of medium - long term storage in a dry, secure environment. A local club perhaps (as mooted above)

    b) to my eyes, you are very much an engineer that likes to push the boundaries (for example beryllium copper as contacts!) and as the 2mm SA development officer, you are the roundest peg in the roundest hole! Perhaps this is where your future lies? HOWEVER, you will need a *small* layout to demonstrate your ideas! Thre advantage to this approach would be that it concentrates the mind on one issue at a time (even better if 'issues' arise that need resolving...), keeps your approach fresh and might even offer a financial reward.

    c) (a) + (b) combined will over come the 'guilt' complex re 'Highclere' - and physically putting it somewhare else will overcome the 'ghost at the feast' which meets you every time you enter or leave the apartment!

    Whatever your decision, the very best of luck with it - at the end of the day we rarely make bad decisions based on a serious thought process.

  13. All the best for the New Year, Julia. I confess that Highclere is not what I know you for - rather, it's the way you turn miniature modelling into an art form.

    Of the 'FOR' items you list, I think the last is important - I have a tiny layout which sets an agenda for things I would like to model. You may find you need something like that in the future. If you can't set up your layout at home, then there isn't much point to it for you, yourself. Others may like it and, if you know someone which would take it on, that would be a good outcome.

    As far as you are concerned, though, your 'AGAINST' list seems pretty overwhelming to me. There's no point in keeping an albatross around your neck, no matter how much you put into it in the past. Move on, and do the things you really want to do in 2017.


  14. Hi Julia, I to have been working for over 10 years on Willit End, my 1921 fictitious GWR Layout which is a mighty size 1200mm x 500mm. Inspiration comes and goes but I am so proud of my 1st TRAIN layout and though it may never be finished due to all the fine detail I will stick with it.

    In you case I think you should move on, look at Highclere as a test bed for your ideas and developments, there's been up's and down's this is 2mm modelling, but look at the skills you have developed, ideas that came to completion and how you have inspired others.

    You are a great modeller researching and developing to completion. Take a break from thoughts of layouts for a year complete the gloat box and then decide on a smaller more manageable layout.

    All the best Stuart Bailey

  15. Hello.

    I think its time I posted something, apologies for the lack of replies by myself over the Christmas break but I wanted a bit of time to think things through a bit before I replied.

    Thank you all for the comments and advice, its great to know there are people out there following my stuff. It has been invaluable to me to get others opinions on the subject, especially before I do anything I will regret! This is where my head is at right now...

    I agree with the sentiment that scrapping it is too drastic therefore I'm not going to take it round the local tip. The thing is though its in the way in the flat (its always been clogging up my hallway) so I think it needs to go.
    Again, thanks to the comments I feel the best decision would to be either sell it on or put it into some sort of 'deep storage' so that's what I plan to do. Therefore if anyone would like to buy a 90% completed large 2mm layout then please let me know. I am also going to look into moving it somewhere to store it (thanks for the offer Gary but its a bit too far for me), the important thing for me is to get it away from under my nose all the time.
    As for what happens next, I don't wholly know. The thing I have discovered so far is some enthusiasm to get on and do some projects which I wanted to do but felt I couldn't, its nice not to feel tied to something once again.
    So that is where I am right now.

    Julia :o)

  16. Hi Julia,
    I haven't posted before, but have followed your modelopolis blog and on RMweb before with interest.
    Firstly, I think the standard of your modelling is truly excellent. What I particularly appreciate is your combining of attention to artistic detail as well as technical detail.
    I'm sorry personally that you have parked "Highclere" if only as it was a really fascinating testbed to see what is possible with 2mmFS. However, if you do store it and focus your enegries elsewhere well that will no doubt give you new impetus and I look forward to hopefully reading about your modelling exploits in future, whatever the gauge.
    As for me, I am just building the space for a reasonably sized 2mmFS layout (4x3m approx), and am thinking of modelling 1947-55 era BR Southern (western) region around Wimbledon. So I wondered if you would be happy to answer some thoughts on modifying a Dapol Q1. You may have seen the Scalefour News article about High Level Kits TendeRiser 1:1 Spur Box, and I was wondering if you had considered something like this (or indeed this very item reduced or modified) to get rid of the drive through the cab/firebox conundrum?
    I also wondered if you would consider producing any more CNC wheels and link etches for a paying customer?!
    All best and keep on modelling,
    Matthew Hillier (AKA LSWRLinesider)

  17. Hi Julia how are you getting on
    John lewsey

  18. Your modelling seems more akin to watchmaking. Your 14xx, for instance, bears scrutiny when the photo is displayed at least five times larger than the original. Furthermore, it is beautifully weathered. Everything is square where it should be, and the overall impression is of a beautifully-crafted model. I am not sure a layout is really your thing.

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