Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]
Welcome to Miniature Railway World Forums, the leading miniature railway forums on the internet, with over 1400 members.

The forums are full of discussion ranging from current activities to historical research.

There is also member-only access to a trip-report, photos & videos section, sells/wanted rooms and the off topic discussion areas.

So why not join in? Registration is quick, easy, and of course free! If you have any trouble, email us at info@miniaturerailwayworld.co.uk

Click Here to Register at Miniature Railway World Forums

Please note, you must be registered and logged-in to access all the forums


Username:   Password:
Locked Topic
Model to Miniature to Narrow Gauge; November Digest
Topic Started: 31 Oct 2007, 10:03 PM (16,253 Views)
MRW Digest
Member Avatar
Porter
[ * ]
Posted Image

Model to Miniature to Narrow Gauge

Where are the limits?


Dom Greenop discusses the possibilities...


I was an observer of a radio interview between my engineering society Chairman and the reporter, and the first statements issued went as follows:

Reporter: "Well, here we are chatting to the Chairman of ESSMEE, who are running this model railway here at the Royal Bath and West Show... ..."

Chairman: "Erm, miniature railway, please! Model railways belong on table-tops."

Now while model railways aren't entirely devoted to table-tops (anything 0 gauge upwards can generally get put in the garden), and where it was a Model Engineering Society building and running the railway, the railway was being operated by miniature locomotives and rolling stock. Certainly some of the engineering that have been employed during construction of the railway is NOT modelling.

Posted Image
Ladybird brings a Royal train past the substantial bridge towards the station at the Royal Bath and West Show, 2007. (Dom Greenop)

Likewise, at the other end of the scale, gauges like 15" are sometimes referred to as being 'narrow-gauge', and in some respects they are. However, is there any way in which we can draw any boundaries and say "that's one thing, that's another"?

Defining any type of railway into a category has never been easy, regardless of size of the trains and gauge of the track. This is further compounded by many countries having different 'standard' gauges. However, we can go some way to define general areas and their approximate position.

Going back to basics, 'miniature' is defined as 'being on a very small scale'. This insinuates that for something to be classed as 'miniature', it has be a scale-example of a larger prototype. So where do we fit in? 'Miniature railways' are generally defined as being between 7 ¼" and 12 ¼" gauge, model railways as being from about 2 ½" gauge downwards and narrow-gauge as being from 2' upwards, meaning that grey areas exist for gauges such as 3 ½", 5", and at the other end of the scale, 15" and 18". So perhaps if we look at this from a different angle – maybe the function of each of these categories? Alternatively can we provide any firm basis as to WHY these current boundaries came to exist, and are they still relevant?

Model railways can be defined quite easily as an operator's hobby which fulfils his or her imagination, either in the form of a scale-model or freelance layout.

Narrow-gauge railways are normally built to serve a purpose, either the carrying of passengers, freight or both. Notable examples are the Vale of Rheidol, Southwold and Leek and Manifold railways. Though preserved examples now only tend to carry passengers (bar demonstration freights and permanent way trains), they are still narrow-gauge as they are on a smaller gauge than the standard gauge.

Miniature railways can become a problem here. Some miniature railways are/were built as 'freight' movers (for example Ravenglass, Romney, Moors Valley, Wolds Way Lavender), while others are built primarily for the enjoyment of the builder with the movement of passengers a secondary priority (many model engineering society railways), simply going round a circuit providing an amusement.

Posted Image
Silver Jubilee providing narrow-gauge motive power as a people-mover at the 1984 Liverpool Garden Festival. (Glen Fairweather)

Posted Image
A busy time at the East Somerset Model Engineers' operated Bath and West Railway, June 2007. (Dom Greenop)

The lower boundary for the term 'miniature railway' can be defined as somewhere around 2 ½" gauge. This is suitable as in the model engineering/miniature railway world you have the passenger-carrying 2 ½" gauge, while for modellers, G63/Gauge 3 uses almost identical track.

Historically, miniature have always focused around 7 ¼" gauge as its trademark gauge, mainly due to the popularity of 7 ¼" as a suitable gauge for exploring one's hobby. However, depending on your wealth (historically speaking), you may have had an estate railway or run an amusement railway, typically of 15" gauge.

15" gauge has existed for over a century, its history goes back as far as the middle of the Victorian era. Sir Arthur Heywood pioneered the 15" gauge, originally as a potential alternative to 18" for military railways, but also for estate purposes. Around the turn of the century, W.J. Basset-Lowke and Henry Greenly developed a range of locomotives and equipment to run on 15" gauge amusement lines at seaside resorts and other places around Europe. Cagney was a similar enterprise operating in the United States. Freight railways built primarily for point-to-point transport (coming under the narrow-gauge canopy) were installed at Duffield Bank, Eaton Hall, Ravenglass (as a development of the pleasure line as built by Basset-Lowke) and Romney, while pleasure lines using miniature near-scale locomotives were built at Blackpool, Southport and Rhyl among others.

Posted Image
A typical Heywood-style 15" narrow-gauge train. (Colin Peake)

From the above comment, we can see that 15" gauge is in a similar position to 2 ½"; one track gauge providing two completely different functions.

But then, we still have some lines above this gauge which still can be classified as ‘miniature’. The 20"/21" gauge railways at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Scarborough’s North Bay and the 18" Bicton Woodland railway are not narrow-gauge in a true sense, so these may also be considered the upper end of the category 'miniature'.

Posted Image
Ex-Woolwich Arsenal locomotive Carnegie hauls a train on the 18" Bicton Woodland Miniature Railway in 1990. (Glen Fairweather)

We also have several railways which are smaller than 15" but also provide a purpose similar to that of a narrow-gauge railway. The 7 ¼" Moors Valley railway, while not a point-to-point railway, builds everything on a serious scale and to narrow-gauge principles. A similar thing can be said about the Swanley New Barn railway, while this and the 10 ¼" Rudyard Lake Railway provide a point-to-point service between the attraction at which they are situated and the car parks. The 7 ¼" gauge Wolds Way Lavender Railway actually provides a revenue-earning freight service, bringing in harvested lavender from the fields to the distillery and processing plant, using commercial equipment. A local 5" line to me takes grass cuttings and other garden waste from the required loading point to the composting area.

Posted Image
Wolds Way Lavender – a proper narrow gauge railway, but on 7 ¼” gauge rails. The wooden tubs to the left of the engine are lavender-carrying wagons. (Colin Peake)

In conclusion, while the traditional boundaries have been established and discussed, it is increasingly evident that especially in recent years, the boundaries have been pushed increasingly so that it is now incredibly difficult to properly define a miniature railway as a strict miniature railway, unless scale-models are regularly used, such as at Great Cockrow. Many 'miniature railways' are now built in such a style and for such a purpose that they ought to be classed as "sub-narrow-gauge," especially where equipment by the likes of Roanoke, Exmoor Steam Railway and Moors Valley are evident.

So while the traditional (and strict) boundaries of miniature railways are between 2 ½" and 15" gauges, don’t forget that some of the smaller gauges are seeing some revenue-earning applications akin to the stereotypical narrow-gauge railway. Times change, railways come and go, their application changes, and so must the way they are classified.

Dom Greenop

Miniature Railway World forum members are invited to reply to this Digest entry. Do you feel that railways should be catergorised by track gauge or by function and the ability to do the job they were designed for?

Please reply to this topic. Your reply will be posted as soon as it has been checked by a Moderator.
Miniature Railway World Digest
Edited by Colin Peake
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
David Humphreys
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Well done Dom, a well thought piece of research.

David
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
Laurence Smith
Member Avatar
A.K.A Cagneyboy
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Instead of categorizing them by the track they run on I think they should be categorized by the height of the locos that run on the railway. For example comparing a class 10 with a Romney pacific there is a big height difference so the pacific should be classed as narrow gauge not miniature simply because its bigger.
A.K.A Cagneyboy the one and only!
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
David Humphreys
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Cagney boy
Nov 1 2007, 03:43 PM
Instead of categorizing them by the track they run on I think they should be categorized by the height of the locos that run on the railway. For example comparing a class 10 with a Romney pacific there is a big height difference so the pacific should be classed as narrow gauge not miniature simply because its bigger.

That won't work.

North Bay Pacifics are definitely miniature engines and not narrow gauge and they are taller than the average engine.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
colinpeake
Member Avatar
MRW Digest Editor
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
I must say that I am inclined to agree with David. The North Bay locos are definately miniature despite their size. You perhaps only get to realise just how big they are if you get to stand next to one at ground level. I had the chance to do this in March when I helped clean 'Triton', to clean the cab roof I had to climb onto the loco!

I am of a view that railways up to 2ft gauge can be classed as 'miniature' dependant on their function and the style of their stock. Even the Chance Rides and Severn Lamb 2ft gauge steam outline locos at places such as Flamingoland and Thorpe Park are 'miniature' in their function and design - they are roughly scaled down US standard gauge outline.

However I also describe many lines described by others as 'narrow gauge' on a track gauge of 15" or less as 'miniature' as their function is still that of a miniature railway - i.e. carrying passengers for pleasure.

As always, it will always be subjective to the person making the statement...

Colin
Colin Peake
MRW Digest Editor

My blog: O9 Modeller
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
Murray Tremellen
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
I think you're right about 2' gauge railways Colin - I remember the 1960's ABC Miniature Railways actually includes the Groudle Glen, and I can certainly see the logic as it was originally built as a fairground line. Yet I think most enthusiasts would classify it as narrow gauge - perhaps because, in the preservation era, it has been worked by engines originally built for "true" narrow gauge lines.

This transfer of engines from one location to another adds another dimension to the "built-to-serve-a-purpose" formula. At Bicton for example, the engines that used to work it were originally built to work a line that served a serious purpose, thus giving the line a much more narrow-gauge character. The same argument could be applied to the 2' gauge lines at Hollycombe and Bressingham.

It's a tricky question and at the end of the day I don't think there will ever be a definative answer. I think we just have to use our own judgements, based on the purpose and character of the line.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
David Humphreys
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Thought we had done the debate on Miniature, models and narrow auge in the past. Cant find it though.

i am sure Peter will though and add the thread.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
cclrcleethorpes
No Avatar
Fireman
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
I have always thought that:

Miniature is any gauge using miniature models be they 3 1/2" to 21" and including narrow gauge up to 12 1/4"

Narrow Gauge outline above that is Minimum Gauge up to 24"

Again it's a personal view.
Running Weekends . September 29th & 30th 2012. 21st Anniversary Gala. "Seaside miniatures railways at it's best" see www.cleethorpescoastlightrailway.co.uk
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
craiggluyas
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
I always based it upon what the railway does. If its a tourist attraction below 2' gauge its miniature. If its a mostly freight line its narrow gauge.
There are special cases, such as Bicton, but this is the only one i can think of!

Craig
Craig Gluyas

Talking to one's self is a sign of madness. I talk to my imaginary friend.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
stuwebb
Member Avatar
Manager
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
craiggluyas
Nov 3 2007, 07:01 PM
I always based it upon what the railway does. If its a tourist attraction below 2' gauge its miniature. If its a mostly freight line its narrow gauge.
There are special cases, such as Bicton, but this is the only one i can think of!

Craig

I suppose at the end of the day its down to everyones definition of the key terms. The trouble with setting a definition is that there will always be the borderline cases that could be defined under several catagories/ descriptions.

Personaly I agree with Craigs boundaries, however it may be advantagious to add a category of "Miniature using Narrow Gauge principles" in this category I would place lines like Moors Valley (Who also market themselves as Narrow Gauge rather than Miniature).

Offline Profile Goto Top
 
DevilDrummer
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
I always thought scaled down versions (like the romney engines etc.) were miniatures and ones designed from scratch for that guage (like the heywood and festiniog etc.) were narrow guage.

just my personal view :)
"Humans are so smart, they dont even need a meteorite to destroy themselves, like the stupid dinosaurs did!"

http://devildrummertom.fotopic.net


NYMR Fireman - "More in the back end!"
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
colinpeake
Member Avatar
MRW Digest Editor
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
DevilDrummer
Nov 3 2007, 07:21 PM
i always thought scaled down versions (like the romney engines etc.) were miniatures and ones designed from scratch for that guage (like the heywood and festiniog etc.) were narrow guage.

just my personal view :)

Generally yes, but there will always be exceptions to the rule! Playing Devil's Advocate here...

You can argue that the Romney locos, although of 'scale' appearance aren't scale models due to them being 1/3rd size on 1/4 track gauge. Also, the 4-8-2s (and I suppose River Esk/Mite too) aren't actually models of any particular prototype, although built to scale appearance.

Equally, the current Fairbourne locomotives (and the Bure Valley's Manifold tank) are equally 'miniature' as they are scale models (within similar tollerances to Romney) of real locomotives, albeit narrow gauge ones!

Is a 7 1/4" gauge scale model of a quarry Hunslet a miniature or narrow gauge loco? :P

Colin

Colin Peake
MRW Digest Editor

My blog: O9 Modeller
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
David Humphreys
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
sandshifter
Nov 4 2007, 09:03 AM
Is a 7 1/4" gauge scale model of a quarry Hunslet a miniature or narrow gauge loco? :P

Colin

We have had this debate before. If it is a smaller version of a prototype, be it standard gauge or otherwise and it can pull people it is a miniature. If it is table top, then it is a model. My opinion is that the cross over will be around 2.5" gauge, although non working model can be built to a larger scale.

The Lavender people at Wintringham, just off the A64 use 7.25" gauge to move some of the plants, so I would see that classed a working narrow gauge, not a miniature.

Captain Howey's vision was to build a main line in miniature, so RHDR has got to be classed as miniature, not narrow gauge, and even the RHDR site confirms this.

http://www.rhdr.org.uk/rhdr/history.html


As does the R+ER confirms that Bassett-Lowke acquired the line as a base for testing their miniature trains under fairly harsh operating conditions.

http://www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk/history.html

Who are we to try to change history and the comments made by the makers.

When I built 'Effie' it was definitely narrow gauge (Sir Arthur’s engine built as a replica on 12" to the foot), but No. 24 is a miniature locomotive as it is a miniature version of a large locomotive. So the concept of physical size does not work.

The club I belong to is Teesside Small Gauge Railway, with the emphasis on 'small' to solve the issue of whether it is a miniature or narrow gauge railway.

I am sure the debate will go on for time immemorial.

David




Offline Profile Goto Top
 
DevilDrummer
Member Avatar
Director
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
sandshifter
Nov 4 2007, 09:03 AM
Is a 7 1/4" gauge scale model of a quarry Hunslet a miniature or narrow gauge loco? :P

Colin

i wouldve said miniature because its a scaled down version, the original wasnt designed for 7 1/4.
"Humans are so smart, they dont even need a meteorite to destroy themselves, like the stupid dinosaurs did!"

http://devildrummertom.fotopic.net


NYMR Fireman - "More in the back end!"
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
MickT
No Avatar
Guard
[ *  *  * ]
sandshifter
Nov 4 2007, 09:03 AM
Quote:
 

Is a 7 1/4" gauge scale model of a quarry Hunslet a miniature or narrow gauge loco?  :P

Colin



Just to muddy the waters a bit more, Colin, my interpretation would be:

a 7¼" gauge "scale model" (your phrase) of a quarry Hunslet would definitely be a "Miniature" as it is a miniaturised model or copy of a full size prototype - irrespective of whether the prototype was broad, narrow, standard gauge, or an elephant for that matter.

BUT, if a 7¼" gauge loco is a stand-alone design in its own right, ie not a model of something else, then I would say it is Narrow Gauge and not a miniature - ergo the Moors Valley/Tinkerbelle designs and the design successors are stand-alone, incorporate their own design features and are not models of anything else - therefore: Freelance.

HOWEVER, the 7¼" gauge Sir Arthur Heywood at Eastleigh Lakes is a half size model of Northern Rock, so therefore must be a miniature, even though under my interpretation, Northern Rock is not a miniature, it is a narrow gauge loco in its own right.

And I don't think we should go to the Bure Valley and debate the "ZB" locos - are they miniature ie half scale models of the ZB class or are they true NG as they are only based on the ZB class and have many design features of their own

:blink: :huh: :ph43r:

Nurse, the screens, it is time for my bedpan........

Mick
Mick
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
1 user reading this topic (1 Guest and 0 Anonymous)
Go to Next Page
« Previous Topic · Miniature Railway World Digest · Next Topic »
Locked Topic