It might be hard to believe but Penhydd was a bit of an accident, a test track that went wrong and grew into a layout. Experimentation was very much the name of the game when I started the project. The idea being to evaluate different track underlays, various flexible track systems, auto couplings, slow action point motors, Silflor grass mats, and a photo back scene. Quiet a list when I think about it, the only problem that I encountered was in getting carried away with things, and before I knew it I had a layout! So where did it all go wrong, and why did I end up dismantling the it? Well having progressed from a simple circular train set I had started to build end to end layouts, and after years of operating trains between a small branch line termini and fiddle yard I was getting bored. Perhaps that is why I began to lose interest in operating, then again friends have suggested that it might be an age thing? Anyway one thing was certain I needed a fresh approach, and a new challenge.
In an attempt to rekindle my interest I constructed the creamery, which seemed to be a good idea at the time, but in fact it proved pointless. True, it was an interesting and enjoyable build, but it added little to the layout. To be honest I might have well continued to trip milk tanks to the fiddle yard and back, which is where the creamery was supposedly located as an off stage industry.
The trouble is, I’m first and foremost a layout builder, and couldn’t resist putting a part of the bare cassette deck to good use. On top of that my interests were beginning to change, the appeal of three coach passenger trains, shunting and having an example of each of my favourite locomotives began to fall flat.
Most of my locomotives never saw the light of day as I was content to operate Penhydd with 1455 and 4678. In short the penny was finally beginning to drop, and the argument about less being more was growing stronger by the day. The discovery of a rare photo showing 7416 at Presteign with a single passenger coach really caught my imagination, it just looked right, and so different from the usual auto-trailer which is so often modelled.
By now I was thinking of building a diorama or two, ideas were pondered then dismissed. I kept looking at Penhydd and began to find all sorts of faults with it, hoping to find an excuse to dismantle it and start all over again.
It was the thought off, rather than the act of dismantling that bothered me. Unable to come to a firm decision I started to plan a small diorama, and as it began to take shape I kept eyeing the space that Penhydd was taking up.
Then one afternoon I started to lift the track, the buildings were salvaged along with some scenery, and the electrics. In fact anything that could be used again was carefully stored away, the items might never see light of day on a new layout, but can come in handy for planning projects, or be reworked into something completely different. Do I have any regrets, well the answer has to be a firm no. Penhydd taught me a lot, was the first layout that I ever completed, which was no doubt down to its simple compact nature. More importantly it set the scene for my future modelling projects.