Battersea Sidings was my first serious attempt at building a shunting puzzle layout. As the name clearly indicates, it was inspired by Alan Wright's Inglenook Sidings. It was also a reflection of one of the many aspects of my railway interests, and was thus situated in the South London area during the late 1980's to early 1990's era, i.e. the Network SouthEast period.

Cl 73 Electro-Diesel on a short ballast train passing through on the low level line at Battersea Sidings

The size of the layout: was determined by the use of one of IKEA's Moppe chests (now discontinued) as a "ready-made designer baseboard": 119cm x 28cm (47,6" x 11,2"), with both ends designed for possible future extension.

The layout was designed with two (independent) track levels so as to provide both "close-up shunting action" and a little bit of "trainspotting". Obviously, that "little bit" of trainspotting would be very limited indeed, but the idea was to use an automatic shuttle device which would run a 2EPB Electric Multiple Unit (or anything else not exceeding a length of 60cm / 2') in and out of the tunnel underneath the sidings on the upper level. The trackplan for the lower level was a designed as a junction (with the line branching off to the North being a dead end track), while the upper level track formation was a straightforward Inglenook Sidings variant with an added kickback siding in the upper right hand corner serving as non-functional scenic cameo to store an older item of stock rusting away in a heavily overgrown siding.

From all of this it is clear that the layout would require an "add-on" to the right which would be long enough to hold the required number of shunting loco plus rolling stock to actually become operational as a shunting puzzle. It is this aspect which eventually doomed Battersea Sidings. The add-on never happened due to space restrictions, traffic and operating sessions dwindled to zero almost immediately after the layout was built, and the closure of this yard was only a matter of time - at least, no supermarket chain will build a car park on this site, as the layout went into storage... ;-) The lesson to be learned from this: always make sure that your planned shunting puzzle layout fits completely into the space available.

View of the sidings on the upper level (left) and a 2EPB coasting out of the tunnel on the low level line (right)
[click for large rimages]


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