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OO scale - GWR Steam: Cwmbach-yn-Triardd

Depicts pre-war GWR steam in South Wales. OO gauge 4mm to the foot; 16.5mm track width. Continuous run 24ft x 12ft with a central well, model uses DCC.

photos by Martyn Bramwell for Model Rail Magazine
(used with permission)

Welcome to the Merseyside MRS
OO Gauge GWR Steam layout 



Its the late 1930s, and the South Wales coal mines are starting to recover from the recession. Millions of tons of coal are being mined every year from the South Wales Coalfield. Not only is it being transported to all parts of the United Kingdom, but it is also being exported abroad from the many docks in Cardiff and other Welsh ports.

The iron and steelworks are again back in full production, and require large quantities of iron ore, limestone, coal as well as other commodities for continuous production. And all of this traffic is carried by rail - and in South Wales that means predominantly the Great Western Railway (GWR).

Cwmbach-yn-Triardd is a set in a fictitious location, but is typical of the many industrialised valleys that existed in South Wales in the 1930s. Unusually Cwmbach is one of the few of the South Wales valleys which offers a through route from the Cardiff docks directly to the English Midlands and the North.

The heavy railway traffic through the valley and the town of Cwmbach is made up of both local and long distance goods and passenger services. As well as the GWR the long arm of the LNWR reached into this part of South Wales and after the Grouping in 1923 the new formed LMS railway company maintained the earlier opportunities of the LNWR to exercise its running rights along the route.

So while the rolling stock and services are mainly GWR a number of LMS services can also be seen passing through the town.

From the south of Cwmbach, and from the Cardiff Docks, the northbound trains enter the Cwmbach Valley, passing over the major stone built Cwmbach Viaduct which spans the valley, down through a cutting and into the town of Cwmbach and its railway station. They continue past the iron and steelworks and into a tunnel on their way north towards England.

At the north end of the iron and steel works there is a single line branch which disappears into a tunnel to serve a large (but unseen) marshalling yard for the iron and steel works.

At the south end of the town, there is a branch line from a small colliery in an adjacent valley which also joins the main line south of Cwmbach Station.

Given the topography of the area, many of these local railway lines vie for the limited space available for railway lines.


The layout originates from 1996 when the Club moved to Brassey Street. It has developed over the past twelve years, and has been designed to offer a constant view of moving trains on the main and branch lines to interest the spectator. There is regular shunting moves in the iron and steel works yard and in the small goods yard next to Cwmbach station, where there is a busy three road engine shed.

The layout is DCC controlled using the Lenz system. To help provide an intensive service of trains, a computer generated programme has been put together to allow the layout to run for approximately one hour without operator assistance. After the hour the programme can be repeated.

More conventionally the layout can be controlled without the computer using the Lenz hand-held controllers. A few DIN plugs have been installed on the outside of the layout to enable visitors to have a go at shunting and changing the points.

Bob Powell  (July 2008)



Since completion, the layout went to several exhibitions - most recently the Merseyside exhibition in 2013. It has now been moved into the clubhouse annexe where several areas are being reworked in between 'playing trains'!


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  Last modified:  February 05, 2017