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Lofthouse  Album
Lofthouse Plan


A pair of Manning Wardles head a goods train at Lofthouse


0 gauge layout of the Skipton & District Railway Society

46ft x 3ft (13.8m x 0.9m) plus operating space, see Lofthouse Plan.

Type of Layout: 
Standard gauge light
railway, transporting passengers to Lofthouse and materials and supplies to reservoirs under construction in the upper Nidd valley above Lofthouse.

7mm:1ft, 32mm track gauge, O finescale.

Number of Operators: 

Transport Requirements/Expenses: 
Transit Luton van hire. Fuel for van and 1 car. B&B accommodation if more than 50 miles (1˝ hours) from Skipton. (For very distant venues B&B accommodation for night after exhibition).

Next Appearances:
Skipton, 22, 23 August 2015 (25th anniversary of the layout's first public appearance).

Past Appearances:
Skipton 1990, Darlington 1991, Skipton 1991, Leeds 1992, Skipton 1992, Skipton 1993, Whitby 1994, Skipton 1994, Blackburn 1995, York 1996, Skipton 1996, BRM Doncaster 1998, Pateley Bridge 1998, Skipton 1998, Manchester 1998, Romford 1999, GOG Halifax 1999, Pateley Bridge 1999, Wakefield 1999, Model Rail North West (Bolton) 2000, Skipton 2000, GOG Halifax 2001, Watford Finescale 2001, Hull 2001, Preston 2002, Pateley Bridge 2002, Warley 2002, South Wales Model Show, Ystrad Rhondda 2003, Skipton 2003, Doncaster (Festival of British Railway Modelling) 2004, Guildex, Telford 2004 (Best Layout), Derby 2005, Skipton 2005, Harrogate (Festival of British Railway Modelling) 2006 (Most Popular Layout), Skipton 2008, Pickering 2009, Skipton  2010, Middleton Railway (Leeds) 2011, Pateley Bridge (150th Anniversary of opening of NE branch from Harrogate) 2012, Skipton 2012, Pateley Bridge (50th Anniversary of closure of NE branch from Harrogate) 2014. 

Trevor Shaw
24 Nursery Lane

LS29 0TN
Tel: 01943 831935


Note: The above email address is an image and cannot be used as a link.

Layout Description

History of the Nidd Valley Light Railway

The Nidd Valley Light Railway was owned by Bradford Corporation Waterworks Department and the Corporation also operated its public passenger services. As far as the Waterworks Department was concerned, the railway’s primary purpose was to carry goods, materials and labour to construction sites high in the Nidd valley, where two large reservoirs were built at Angram (1904-1919) and Scar House (1921-1936). However, the 6-mile stretch of line between Pateley Bridge and Lofthouse was constructed under the terms of a pre-existing Light Railway Order of 1901, taken over by Bradford Corporation in 1904, which obliged the Corporation to operate a public passenger service between those two places.  

Thus, Lofthouse was the public passenger terminus of the line. The station also possessed a modest yard where wagons were assembled for the steep climb to the reservoir sites, a further 6 miles up the valley. The industrial 0-6-0T locomotives used by the Corporation and the contractor, John Best & Sons of Edinburgh, could take only 3 - 4  loaded wagons each up the grades to the reservoirs, so even quite short trains had to be banked. 

The NVLR was opened in 1907, closed to passengers on the last day of 1929, and was closed completely in 1937.   

The Layout 

The layout represents the station area at Lofthouse exactly to scale, with no selective compression or other subterfuge to make the trackwork fit the baseboards.

The left-hand side of the layout, representing the climb to the reservoirs, is based on fact, but is not an exact representation. Similarly, the section of the layout below Lofthouse is a somewhat fictional representation of the gentler country in the lower dale.

Everything on the baseboards, including all buildings and trackwork, is scratchbuilt. For the track plan and the railway-owned buildings, we had the benefit of copies of the original drawings, which are still in the possession of Yorkshire Water plc. The trackwork uses Code 100 flat bottom rail, spiked directly to the sleepers to represent the 55lb per yard light rail used in the original.

The Stock

Locos and rolling stock are a mix of kit built and scratchbuilt items. The stock represents vehicles owned both by the Corporation and John Best & Sons. The Dingham Autocouplers used on the stock were specially developed for the layout by a club member and are commercially available. See All stock is built and owned by various Society members.

Bradford Corporation Locomotives

With one exception, the following models are believed to be entirely authentic, i.e. they accurately represent locos owned by the Corporation which actually ran on the NVLR. All the Bradford Corporation locomotives were named after dignitaries connected with the Waterworks Department.

Holdsworth - an ex Metropolitan Railway Beyer Peacock 4-4-0T (BP No 707 of 1866), purchased by the Corporation for the opening of the line in 1907 and painted in Metropolitan-style livery at Neasden before despatch north. Its 5ft 9in driving wheels made it unsuitable for operations on the steep grades above Lofthouse and it spent its time on the Pateley Bridge to Lofthouse public passenger service. Scratch-built.

Milner - Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T purchased new by the Corporation in 1909 (HC No 882 of 1909). Milner worked both passenger and goods trains. Scratch-built.

Beatty - Manning Wardle Class M 0-6-0ST (MW No 1669 of 1905) purchased by the Corporation probably about 1921. The model is not totally authentic, being based on a kit of the somewhat smaller Manning Wardle Class K.

Blythe - Avonside Engine Co 0-6-0ST, purchased new in 1925 (AE No 1894 of 1925). Worked mainly on goods traffic between Pateley Bridge and Scar House reservoir site. Built from an Agenoria kit.

Hill - steam railmotor, see below.

Other Locomotives

In addition to the locos listed above, Bradford Corporation from time to time owned a further ten locomotives. These are represented, rather than modelled, by running various industrial 0-6-0 and 0-4-0STs of appropriate age and size.

Edna - Manning Wardle Class F 0-4-0ST. Slaters kit.
- Manning Wardle Class K 0-6-0ST. Slaters kit.
Ringing Rock
- Manning Wardle Class K 0-6-0ST. Impetus kit.
- Manning Wardle Old Class I 0-6-0ST. Impetus kit.

The last two locos were built for a Selsey tramway layout, which hasn't materialised yet.

Contractor's Locomotives

The contractor, John Best & Son of Edinburgh, had many locomotives working on the two reservoir projects. They mainly worked within the reservoir sites and were rarely seen at Lofthouse. None has been modelled.

Steam Railmotor

In 1905, the Great Western Railway purchased two articulated steam railmotors of decidedly odd appearance from Kerr Stuart of Stoke-on-Trent. These became GWR Nos 15 and 16. They had many features in common with a design that appears to have originated from Mr Hurry Riches of the Taff Vale Railway, including the 2-2-0 wheel arrangement of the engine and unusual inside-bearing bogies at the passenger end. As well as the Taff Vale, the LSWR, LBSCR, MR and L&Y operated vehicles with similar features.

On the GWR, the railmotors were not a success and were not used long on that railway. Both were soon offered for sale. No 15 was bought by Bradford Corporation for the NVLR in 1921, but No 16 failed to find a buyer and was broken up.

No 15 was named Hill (though it seems never to have carried the name) but was not immediately successful even on the Nidd Valley. With the engine pushing, it had trouble ascending the relatively gentle grades between Pateley Bridge and Lofthouse and had to be sent to the triangle at Starbeck, near Harrogate on the North Eastern for turning, so as to put more weight on the driven wheels of the engine.

After 8 years in the construction (on and off), a scratch-built Hill has finally made its appearance on our model railway to run the Pateley Bridge - Lofthouse passenger service at quieter times.

Passenger Stock

The NVLR purchased ten 4-wheel coaches from the Metropolitan Railway for the opening of the line in 1907. These are represented on the layout by two brake thirds and two thirds. The regular Pateley Bridge - Lofthouse passenger train consists of brake third/third/brake third and the Lofthouse - Scar House (reservoir) train is a single third with the NVLR fitted goods brake van behind.

The ex-Met 4-wheelers are made from "Quintessential" kits (no longer available). These might have been described by other manufacturers as "aids to scratch-building", but certainly preferable to the chore of building panelled coaches from polystyrene sheet.

Goods Stock

Goods stock is mainly kit built and many kit manufacturers are represented. The goods transported are summarised below.

What Goes On?

The Nidd Valley Light Railway possessed only two goods brake vans, yet it must have operated an intensive goods service from the mainline network to keep the reservoir builders supplied with coal for 27 steam navvies and 15 locomotives located at the reservoir site and two steam-powered stone crushing plants supplying stone for massive quantities of concrete. In addition, there was gunpowder and huge quantities of cement, in those days carried in bags in vans, not to mention general supplies to be carried for a population of more than 1000 men working and living on the site, many accompanied by their families.

Our timetabling for the goods traffic shows that the goods brake vans must have been detached from Scar House-bound trains at Lofthouse – otherwise, the necessary traffic could not have been accommodated. A banking engine, attached at Lofthouse, was relied on to provide the necessary braking at the rear of the train. To support this contention, there is a famous photograph of a goods train ascending the bank between Lofthouse and the reservoirs. The train has 14 wagons, mostly vans, presumably loaded with bagged cement. It is double-headed and has two bankers. All four locos are obviously working hard and the last wagon in the train is an open - clearly not a brake van.

On the return trip to Pateley Bridge, we reasoned that the trains would be double-headed as far as Lofthouse, to provide the necessary braking power at the front end of the train. From Lofthouse to Pateley Bridge, a goods brake van at the rear of the train would be a legal requirement, because that part of the line carried public passenger trains.

So, this explains the complex goings on at Lofthouse. Every goods train bound for the reservoirs has to have its brake van detached and shunted into Lofthouse yard. A banker (or two) is then attached to the rear for the climb up the 1 in 28 to the reservoirs.

Conversely, all goods trains descending the bank and bound for Pateley Bridge have the pilot loco detached and shunted into the spur. The train is then drawn forwards before reversing into the yard to pick up a brake van.  

The Backscene

When we first produced the photographic backscene in 1999, it was something of a novelty. At least, we were not aware that anything of the sort had been done before. At that time, the most frequently-asked question about the layout  was, “How did you do the backscene?” It’s made from several series of photographs of the north and east sides of Nidderdale, put together to form panoramas, scanned in a digital scanner, manipulated in digital software, printed as “posters” on A4 and pasted on the backscene. This sort of thing is a lot more common now since digital photography took hold but, in 1999, it was unusual if not unique.  


High(ish) quality digital photographs (1600 x 1200 pixels or better) of the layout are available to Exhibition Managers on request, either as prints, on CD or as email attachments (.jpg format). There is an album of lower quality photographs available on this website but, beware, it may take several minutes to download over a dial-up connection.

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