The origins of the club “O” gauge begin around 1984 and stem from Don Mathers’ coarse scale garden layout. It was built in stud contact 3 rail form and the track was formed by hand from separate components. The sleepers were cut from hardwood with cast chairs nailed individually. Brass rail threaded through them and there were brass pins in the centre with contact wire linking each pin by soldering. This is a very tedious method of construction but it was hardy for outdoor use. The original layout for the club exhibition was constructed on scrap plywood boards sat on trestles and incorporated Don’s station boards from his garage.
At a later date the “SM32” layout was built in the same manner but then Ron Smith suggested we build a 2 rail fine scale layout to satisfy the needs of those members who had these models. The first fine scale layout was built around 1997 with a limited area consisting of a country station with a small loco servicing depot and shed on two boards. To this was added a small industrial area and a fiddle yard on a further two boards at 90 degrees to the station. The boards developed the scenic aspect of the area which reflected the GWR during the 1930’s.
The old layout had quite large and had heavy boards which required some effort to transport and set up. It was decided in 2013 to rebuild the layout on smaller and lighter boards with the addition of an “O 16.5” narrow gauge incorporated. This was completed and appeared at the 2014 exhibition, although the project has continued to develop under the guidance of Geoff and the team.
Unfortunately Ron passed away in 2018 but we hope that his legacy lives on as the O gauge layout continues to develop and improve.