Given the simple track layout and the basic operating principle of simply picking up and dropping off wagons, the thought that this layout may not be very prototypical, i.e. far removed from what really happens on the railways of this world, could well come up. However, the really nice thing about Inglenook Sidings is that, in fact, it is perfectly prototypical and highly flexible at the same time.

Any layout based on Inglenook Sidings will be prototypical in as much as any railway needs sidings somewhere which serve the sole purpose of providing the space to temporarily store rolling stock out of the way of the rest of the railway (which can also account for a very motley accumulation of different rolling stock which normally would not be found together on the same piece of track). From time to time, some of the rolling stock will be picked up again and moved on while other wagons are dropped off again. In fact, even the chance element of which wagons are to be picked up is quite possible in real life (where, of course, the logic and logistics of making up a train will dictate which wagon is to be picked up), although this will only seldom happen in a strict order of which wagon is to come first, second etc.

But all in all, this last point doesn't weigh too heavy in terms of modellers' licence. The fact that these sidings are rather short is simply a reminder of the amount of compression almost every model railway layout represents. Railway modelling, after all, is the art of compromise.

The essence of the track layout of Inglenook Sidings can be found in many prototype locations, sometimes as a set of sidings used to temporarily store rolling stock, sometimes as a set of sidings serving one or more customers.

A perfect prototype example for this classic English shunting puzzle could be found on the Epsom Downs branch in Surrey in the form of the goods yard at Belmont.

Belmont goods yard, ca.1935


Survey map of around 1935 showing the track layout of Belmont goods yard [click for a larger image]. For more information on this branchline (still up and running today)
visit the
Epsom Downs Branch Website

Belmont Goods Yard closed in 1969, with goods trains seemingly operated by steam right up to the end of freight services on the branch, but with just a little bit of modeller's licence it could be argued that the yard survived into the modern era as storage and stabling sidings for civil engineering purposes.



Anyone intending to build and operate a model railway layout along the lines of the Inglenook Sidings mould has a wide choice of location and is by no means restricted to running British motive power and rolling stock. The following examples from different countries are intended as an illustration of the flexibility and prototypical diversity offered by a shunting puzzle layout based on the Inglenook Sidings trackplan, combined with examples of motive power and rolling stock which could be used.

  • ITALY: Asti, capital city of the province of the same name, is another interesting example with lots of "mini scenes" and one or two interesting modelling aspects.
  • U.S.A.: The BNSF Railway's trackage at Selby, South Dakota, incorporates an Inglenook Sidings track arrangement and provides lots of inspiration for a shunting puzzle layout.
  • CANADA: The Canadian National Railway's trackage at Bayers Lake Yard in Halifax, Nova Scotia, not only features a genuine Inglenook but also has a neat - in modeller's terms - exit to fiddle yard as well.
  • ITALY: Montevarchi, 35 km South of Florence, is a perfect example to show that you can have a layout which is shunting puzzle and prototype modelling at the same time.
  • U.S.A.: The Milwaukee Road's Docks Yard at Tide Flats / Tacoma illustrates how even a big classification yard consists of elements which can be used as prototype inspiration for an Inglenook Sidings shunting puzzle layout.

  One of the most informative portrayals of a "proto-nook" can be found in this video from Brockville ON which not only shows the track layout but the actual switching operation in more or less real time (some editing has taken place).

It is especially interesting to see how the mainline track to the right of the warehouse is used to hold stock not involved in the actual switching.

(click on image to view video on DailyMotion)





Page created: 01/MAY/2001
Last revised: 27/DEC/2021