By Michael Taylor
Henley is a fictional replacement for Henley in Arden on the Birmingham and North Warwickshire Railway and covers the early 50s to the mid to late 60s.
It’s a busy main line, linking Birmingham with Stratford on Avon, Warwick, Oxford and Paddington. A former GWR branch line to Lapworth also provides access to Solihull and beyond.
Henley has a thriving trade in worsted cloth, milk and various other industries surrounding Henley Basin which provides the major feature of the layout together with the station and small goods yard. Henley Basin is connected to the London to Birmingham canal.
Apart from milk traffic from Primrose Dairy, main rail freight traffic passing through Henley is iron ore, from North Midland mines to South Wales, and coal from the Valleys on return trips. There is also brisk passenger traffic served by expresses and DMUs.
The layout started 14 years go as a 6ft by 3ft double-track oval, built on a sturdy 3 x 1 in frame and topped with 6mm ply. Work was restarted only three years ago and this involved extending the length by 2ft and increasing the depth by six inches to create a larger fiddle yard, thus allowing the deployment of more generous radii demanded by the finer wheel profiles of today’s locos.
Like many layouts, Henley is still very much “a work in progress” and I’m sure there are many more improvement that can be made.
With hindsight a lighter construction would have been preferable - but that’s all water under the canal bridge!