HRM Bath Mill and Portmadoc October 2020

From Andy Wilkinson

Finally, we have moved!    -     An update from Huddersfield!
As many Yorkshire 16mm Group members will know, last year Huddersfield Railway Modellers, including its 16mm NGGroup were actively looking to find a new clubroom. There was deep uncertainty over the future of their Milnsbridge clubrooms, their home for well over the previous decade.  Possible re-redevelopment of the mill building had forced the decision to look for alternative premises.

By the end of 2019 suitable premises were located in a former textile mill in nearby Lockwood, much nearer the Huddersfield town centre. Negotiations with the prospective new landlord were underway so that by January 2020 terms were agreed and a lease signed. It was inevitable and accepted that for a short period, HRM would have two properties to fund whilst all the necessary preparations for moving homes were undertaken.

Work was started at Bath Mill by the landlord’s own workforce to open out the former offices space HRM was taking over. The heating system needed re-routing and updating and several water leaks in walls, around some windows and the ceiling needed attention. After these were cured HRM members could commence their jobs - painting walls, installing new lighting, building a new kitchen and toilets, and fitting out the new Library and Lounge areas. As work progressed at Bath Mill over a couple of months, back at Milnsbridge the club’s layouts were dismantled, crated and made ready for the big move. The contents of the extensive HRM Library were boxed.  Hard decisions had to be made about what items to keep and what to throwaway from a decade of accumulated 'material and junk' members had gathered over many years. Gradually the project was coming together and it was hoped the move might actually take place before April 2020 ended. By mid-March a professional mover with two medium size vans and accompanying 'muscle' to help had been consulted. Then BANG ! The Covid lockdown happened!!!  Nothing could continue at either site.  All work stopped! We were in limbo until when?  Nothing much occurred for over three months.

LH Bath Mill main hall with 7mm layout

RH main hall with 7mm layout

smaller layout hall

inside the new kitchen

When the lockdown was eventually eased and access to Bath Mill was possible again, some members, who felt they could, picked up the move project again. Painting and other main preparation works at Bath Mill were eventually largely completed and the 'big move' was now finally planned for Friday 14th August. Two vans plus five hired-in ’big lads’, supported by club members were needed to transport six full van loads of layouts etc..  across town. At the end of that day, after all the frustration, HRM had actually moved -   only several months later than originally projected and alas, with large additional expenses incurred as a result.

Crated layouts on arrival at Bath Mill

Shuffling 16mm crated layouts ready for assembly

Prior to the move, a scale floor plan of the new premises had been drawn up with scale layout footprints added to determine which of the various different scale layouts would fit and where.  Upon arrival from the vans the different crated layouts were left stacked in these allocated spaces to be uncrated and assembled later.   This process is still underway with still some way to go.  Efforts have been made to make the new clubrooms as Covid compliant as possible but only limited numbers of member visits have so far taken place and of course we have to respond to the ever changing Covid situation, advice and rules that apply at the time.

The HRM 16mm Group always knew that the extensive award winning ‘Nant Mawr’ layout could not fit in our allocated space at Bath Mill. However it was found that the smaller ‘Portmadoc’ layout, that had metamorphosed from ‘Nant Mawr’ to aid portability, would fit. So on a Monday morning in early September, after some time spent firstly shuffling around crated parts of 16mm layouts, the ‘Portmadoc’ layout was re-erected in its new home, but at right angles to the original plan.  It was a better fit with a bonus as it then freed more potential space for a possible extension parallel to one side of ‘Portmadoc’, and maybe even easily joining on?  

At a later session, considering the other unused layout boards available for re-use,  it was decided that the award winning  ‘Dingle Branch’ layout could not fit the available space anywhere without major surgery  but should remain intact as a whole layout.  It is to be stored, not broken up, and available for maybe future exhibition use. However, there were other former ‘Nant Mawr’ boards available to either incorporate as they were or re-use by re-modelling them.  Further sessions on the ground looking, measuring and thinking, helped create the current cunning plan which has evolved using several ex-Nant Mawr boards, including Dolgoch Viaduct, to arrive at the total envisaged future running circuit.  A study of the accompanying plan view and selection of photographs may help illustrate this.

Click here for plan

On the plan view, starting clockwise at the top right hand corner of the existing Porthmadoc, a rail link line is being considered, possibly in the form of an access lift-up bridge, to take the line on to and across the Dolgoch Viaduct.  From here a new track alignment takes the line around the corner, crossing a new short baseboard to join/cross two ex-Nant Mawr boards, then around another corner into Lynbridge Station. A further board with some re-aligned trackworks can link from here into Portmadoc Station and beyond. It may also be possible to incorporate a central fiddle yard for steaming-up and train assembly later. Members are confident they will eventually have an interesting running line around the whole circuit - ‘Portmadoc Plus’   - with many opportunities for adding scenic landscaping opportunities. The final result should still allow taking the existing ‘Portmadoc’ layout out easily for any future exhibitions. 

Portmadoc layout newly erected LH door kitchen RH door toilets

Portmadoc in foreground..extension beyond

Portmadoc left and extension


Extension looking towards Portmadoc Station

Extension..lifting bridge to go on end of Dolgoch Viaduct

Lynbridge with Portmadoc beyond

Trial fitting of lifting bridge1

as above with lifting bridge 2

Over the next few months, Covid allowing, members hope to progress and consolidate this 16mm layout activity further. They look forward to the day when the year 2020,  and ‘Covid’ are perhaps but a distant memory, and HRM can again invite our Yorkshire and other 16mm friends to come along and enjoy the new Bath Mill 16mm facilities here in Huddersfield.



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