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Brighton Works in the early 1870's

Brighthelmstone is my scenic photo plank, based on a section of the above picture of Brighton Works, taken in 1871.

The idea for Brighthelmstone was born out of my desire for a location to take photos of locomotives, and stock that I was building. I was reading about LB&SCR related stuff on the internet one day, when I found the above image of the works, and decided that would be perfect, having some scrap wood around the house I set out to see how big a layout I could make, and how interesting I could make that, from that Brighthelmstone was born.

Playing with ideas for Brighthelmstone

The name Brighthelmstone was chosen as it is an archaic name for Brighton, taken from the Saxon period, therefore giving reference to the basis of the layout, while acknowledging that it is not an exact copy.

Once the very basic trackplan was decided on, thought turned to the trackwork itself, I decided to use the at the time newly released Peco code 75 bullhead track, this was then painted, the sleepers in Railmatch Sleepergrime, and the rails in a concotion of browns to give the impression of both rust and muck.

Painted track on Brighthelmstone


With the trackwork sorted, the time came to turn my attention to the turntable, my aims for Brighthelmstone were for it to be cheap, and not take forever to build, this meant things like the London Road Models turntable were out of the question, and none of the more affordable turntabls were the right size, or design for Brighthelmstone.

Being an LB&SCR layout, set in the 1870's meant I needed a 42ft Cowans & Sheldon turntable, and with my bdget, and time restraints, I had no choice but to scratch build. Luckily an early issue on MRJ had drawings of one that I could base mine on.

Work began with the well, as I knew if I got this right, I could take measurements for everything else from it, a pair of circles were measured on some 60 thou plasticard, one inside the other, these were then cut out, the inner cirlce forming the base of the well, and the outer circle forming the stonework around the top, an inside wall was made out of some 20 thou plasticard, before the top ring had it's stonework engraved, and the entire thing painted gray, I made the inner wall out of SE Finecast brick paper painted with Humbrol 70, Brick Red. a support for the table was made out of some plasticard tube, a section would also be mounted to the bottom of the table that fits inside this.

Brighthelmstone Turntable Well

With this done, work moved onto the table itself, A top section was cut from 60 thou plasticard, using the same measurements as I had done earlier in the build, and once I was happy that this wasy the right size for the well and could turn freely, a piece of tube was added to the bottom, to slide through the onw in the well.

I then proceeded to cut up an Dapol (formerly Airfix) turntable kit that I had, so that I could use the girders from that for the bottom of my table, the sizes of these matched up qute conveniently with the drawings I had from MRJ.

I also at this stage added the running rail to the bottom of the well, this was made from a scrap piece of Peco N gauge code 80 rail.

Brighthelmstone Turntable Table

I then moved onto adding the bits on the top of the turntable, I made my own track gauges and superglued some pieces of code 75 bullhead to the top of the turntable. For the safety rails, it turned out, quite convenietly, that Peco track pins were about the right height for a Cowans & Sheldon table, the tops of these waas filed tso that solder would stick, and brass wire was soldered accross for the top rail.

Brighthelmstone Turntable Table 2

Some push bars were added to the end of the table with thicker bits of brass, along with brakes cut from Plasticard.

With this done, and some paint applied the turntable was finished ready for planting in the layout.

Brighthelmstone Turntable Finished


With the turntable finished work could turn to the works building that would make up the backscene of the layout, basic shells were made from 6mm ply, and this was coated in SE Finecast brick sheets, built up in several layers to replicate the detail on the original building.

Brighthelmstone buildings

Once the walls were inished they were painted, along with some "Great British Locomotives" magazine Rocket carraiges, and an old Triang wagon. The buildings worked onto the layout, with a few options for locations tried before reaching a final decision. Some scalescenes lamps were painted in LB&SCR colours and placed on the layout.

Brighthelmstone layout planning

Before the buildings were stuck down, the backscene was painted blue, the doors for the works were made out of cerial box card, and the windows made out of clear acetate. Everything on the layout was then weathered with a reasonably heavy black wash.

Brighthelmstone Buildings fitted

This brought us very close to a finished layout, however we were still missing the ground cover, in the 1870's a works such as this would have had ash from the locomtive smokeboxes, so with this, the only option I could think of for ground cover was locomotive ash, luckily for me I have links with a local minature railway, giving me a free unlimited source of Locomotive ash, I got enough of this for the layout, and promptly smashed it up so that I could use it as ballast on the layout.

Brighthelmstone Ballast

I then coated the entire layout in the ash ballast, and made a nameboard for the front of the layout. THis marked the end of Brighthelmstones developemnt, and it has served as a very useful photoplank ever since.

Brighthelmstone Finished