Thank you for your interest in this website.

It really grew out of nothing more than my modest personal notekeeping on the topic of shunting puzzle layouts.

  My interest in this rather special form of railway modelling was initially awoken many many years ago (1990, to be precise) when I read about a "switching game" in a review in Model Railroader of a software product called "RR Switch", which basically is a variation of John Allen's original concept.

It sounded so interesting that I ordered my copy directly from the author, Fred Miller, and once I had it installed on my PC I instantly got completely hooked and spent hours upon hours moving around virtual cars... (if this screenshot of "RR Switch" v 4.5 looks slightly odd to you, remember that in those days computers ran on DOS 3.1 with glorious 16 colour EGA).

Amazingly, you can still play "RR Switch" today, thanks to the Internet Archive (and thanks to Chris Crawford, who pointed the archived game out to me).

I actually built an HO layout taking the game as trackplan template (and then taking track complexity to the silly level), but a move to an apartment with less space meant storage (and subsequent dismantling) of the layout, and thus the end for my switching puzzle activities for a while.

My interest was kick-started back into life by an article I came across in the June 1998 issue of Railway Modeller on Southampton Docks, showing how the general atmosphere of such a railway setting could be incorporated into modelling a small shunting layout.

The first of several track plans featured in the article suggested making shunting more interesting, in spite of the rather simple and straightforward arrangement of tracks, by applying "the Inglenook Sidings formula". I had never heard of that layout operation concept before, and while it sounded interesting I couldn't find any further information at the time.  


Then, in early 2000 - trying out this interesting new search engine called Google instead of Altavista - and searching for "Inglenook Sidings", this Google thing found 5 sites on the internet - two of which actually had something to do with what I was looking for.


One was Rolf Kramosch's Rendsburg layout in 1 scale [1:32], dating from 1996 (long since disappeared from the world wide web and accessible only thanks to the internet archive), the other was Alan Wright himself, spiritus rector of Inglenook Sidings, who was featured with his 0/16,5 scale narrow gauge layout Ober Bucherschrank Bahn on Chris MacKenzie's Virtual Narrow Gauge MREX - the layout evidently incorporated many elements of the 00 scale classic shunting puzzle.

It seems somewhat odd to still be quite a few years away from retirement and yet still be able to say that one witnessed a time when certain information could be found in print but not on the internet. But that's the way it still was in the year 2000, so I decided to make my findings on shunting puzzles, the Inglenook Sidings and the Timesaver available on the web. Initially through a Tripod free website, it was all moved to my own domain in early 2003.

I always thought of the website as a small and quick reference compendium of basic facts and figures, rather than a constantly expanding and exhaustive take on its subject. As such I am amazed by the number of visitors over the years, not the least thanks to some links other fellow modellers had put up on their own websites, quite often together with some very nice appraisal and commentaries (which are greatly appreciated) on my modest compilation of basic facts.


My 00 scale British Railways 1960s Inglenook Sidings shunting puzzle Little Bazeley (built in 2004, superseded by a Mk2 version since 2021)


Today (Spring 2024) you can still do that very same search on that very same search engine - except now, Google will come up with a mind boggling 400,000 results for Inglenook Sidings. And it does seem as though the vast majority of those hits actually do have something to do with railway modelling. Amazing.

It also means that these simple yet wonderful concepts of providing entertainment through layouts easily set up and operated have been proliferated by numerous railway modellers all around the globe - plus some seminal websites such as the late Carl Arendt's micro layouts pages, second to none in popularizing the concept of having a small layout and not feel bad about it. In fact, small layouts (including shunting puzzles) have gone from a niche interest in the 1970s to something pretty close to mainstream today.

So happy shunting and enjoy your switching puzzle - not the least because, as the late Alan Wright would always say, you meet some very kind people in this hobby.



Page created: 18/SEP/2013
Last revised: 31/MAR/2024

Text, photos and illustrations not labelled otherwise are Adrian Wymann