This is a Club Layout built by a team of Club members

The club’s ‘Broadland’ layout is intended to give a flavour of the Norfolk region in which our club is situated, which is basically the area of river systems and lakes known as ‘The Norfolk Broads’, now known as ‘The Norfolk Broads National Park’.

With over 200 miles of navigable waterways and many more that are landlocked or too small/narrow for general navigation, and with many towns and villages situated in the area plus the significant City of Norwich, it would be impossible to include all the features of the area on one model railway layout. In view of this it was decided that we would create a mainly rural scene incorporating some of the ‘unique’ features to be found around us.

With size constraints of the space available in our clubroom to build the layout, and of the room that might be available to exhibit the layout in due course, it was decided that ‘00’ was the preferable gauge, built on a series of 48 inch by 30inch and 30inch by 30 inch boards laid out in a rectangular planform and operated by a DCC system.

Water is everywhere in the Norfolk Broads. Rivers, drainage dykes and the man-made lakes called ‘Broads’ which were the result of peat digging over very many years, plus a plethora of ponds, ditches and waterlogged marshes. So, naturally, we decided that we must incorporate a watercourse (river) running through the scene, connecting the other elements of the layout that will represent (but not necessarily copy) some of the railway features, rural industry and habitats both of the local people and wildlife. This will include moving boat traffic on the river, and we opted to achieve this feature by using an ‘N’ Gauge track system in the river area.

However well we manage to disguise the track in the river, it will still be visible and we decided that this would have to be accepted in the need for practicality. Doing it this way means that we can use a DCC operating system for the river traffic as well as for the railway system, meaning we can operate a number of boats on the same river tracks simultaneously.

With a number of railway lines crossing rivers in our part of Norfolk, bridges were a prime requirement. Some of the bridges, being on basically flat low-lying areas of the county, and with a requirement for tall masted sailing vessels plying the waterways that they crossed, the bridges had to be movable. We have therefore included a ‘swing’ bridge in our design, similar to a couple still in use on today’s railway. The bridge will operate automatically when approached by a Norfolk Wherry (a tall-masted sailing barge), with appropriate signalling and halting of railway traffic whilst the boat sails through the opened bridge. This will be achieved using a home-made system provided by our resident electronic genius.

Building of the baseboards commenced in early 2022, and more than half of the basic layout has been built as at March 2023. All the track that has been laid so far has been electrically ‘proven’ and we are beginning to add scenics to the boards now. The basics of the swing bridge system have been fitted and proven, with the bridge deck operating as intended. The bridge superstructure will be built shortly, and the landscaping of the approach areas is underway. Some of the layout buildings are also being built/remodelled ready for incorporation shortly. We hope to be able to exhibit much of the layout as a working ‘work in progress’ in the latter part of 2023.