Idylton Vale-1:76 (OO) Tramway UK


A small scale model tramway layout initially intended to be constructed quickly!!.

New tramway model under construction- initial thoughts
Called Idylton Vale, it is a 1:76 (OO) model of a suburban centre, with parades of shops; cinema; a Southern Electric art nouveau station and a tramway in a central street reservation, together with  a suggestion of an arterial road with the essential roundabout. A typical 1930’s suburban idyll.
It is hoped this will be a quick build model using as much ready built or commercial card kits with RTR trams (Bachmann ). Later the trams could be replaced with more correct London types.
The possibility of using Ikea Apa storage boxes to form the layout structure was investigated, but instead a purpose built baseboard was used. Follow the pictures of design and construction on  this page.

This page replaces a Google+ page of similar name, from which content was transferred in early April 2016. There have been additions & revisions subsequently.

The track layout is dog-bone shaped with the two circular “turning circles” used as off view fiddle yards

Set in “somewhere” in South London in the mid 40’s to early 50’s in an imaginary suburb developed  from the Victorian era & particularly in the thirties. The area suffered little from the “blitz” but was less lucky with the V1/2  attacks in 1944.

Many immediate post war town centre redevelopments had a dual carriageway element,(Streatham & Above Bar Southampton were prime examples) which suggested that UK planners, local and central government, were in awe of the motor car. No thought of the serious implications of excluding public transport in favour of the motor car were considered.

I blame American films of the period with views of huge car lots and sun affecting our judgement of the future. We didn’t have the space and we definitely didn’t have the sun!

Also the motor bus had become very cheap to build (but with a short life) and enabled the abandonment of most tramway systems in Britain, with little protest. Many of them, particularly in the  northern provinces, suffered abandonment despite modern stock and recent extensions to post war housing estates.

This lack of foresight meant, that when we realised the bus or car was no substitute for the tram in a large conurbation  in terms of capacity, speed and comfort, it was to be many years before trams could return to the large UK cities- Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Edinburgh, but at great cost.

Central London still awaits a new system, although Croydon was one of the first of the second generation systems in the UK.

Our mainland  European neighbours were less impressed by the American model of the future of towns and mostly set about modernising the rolling stock, improving and expanding the infrastructure. Where they had abandoned systems pre and post war they brought them back in a determined effort to restore the quality of their towns.

Further thoughts

The location of the model could be somewhere around the Kingston By-Pass and the SR line to Chessington, an area I lodged in for a short period in the mid 60’s, travelling from Malden Manor into Waterloo.

On the layout a new section of the High Street area is laid out with segregated tram tracks, more common in Europe than in pre and post war Britain.  The fictional assumption for this model, is that the London system continued to expand with the creation of new suburbs between the wars. This  meant that when the LPTB took over in 1933, the tramway system could have been ripe for fleet modernisation, rather than the overhasty conversion to trolley bus up to 1939 and complete abandonment in favour of the motor bus post war, that actually took place.

So this layout is a view of how a different policy pre & post-war could have laid the foundation of an expansion & modernisation policy,  with all the new LCC housing estates being served by modern tramways, with connecting trolley bus routes where appropriate. (On the layout the TB’s will be static)

The  Bachmann Hong Kong trams in 1:76 scale will be used on the model to represent modernised stock, with the suggestion of  “limited stop” routes which enables the trams to provide a complimentary linking service to the electrified lines of the Southern and the London Underground. The trams still serve the central areas but these services  pass through the inner Victorian suburbs to reach the vast new suburbs around places like Kingston more quickly. A blue livery represents these routes and the LT red livery the traditional “all stops” service. Both livery’s are applied to  modernised trams.


Design drawing for L&DMRC member Eric King who made the baseboard in 2014

idylton vale basboard details scan   


A low relief version “in the style of” is proposed on the outside edge (viewers side) of the  layout. Apparently the lift tower, which we hope to include, never had a lift installed!
The station name IDYLTON VALE will fit in well with the proposed names of other stations on the line, originally proposed  to  run to Leatherhead, some of which were never built  (Chessington North & Chessington South were to be known as Chessington Court & Chessington Grange respectively. Another station, never built, was to be known as Malden Rushett.)  (Feb 2015)
An plan of a typical J. Sainsbury service branch circa 1920/30’s
A model will be made of this to form part of the low relief street scene.
I also have elevations and cross sections which will enable a detailed model to be made for this layout.
The company archive at the London Docklands Museum also should have a large scale model of a similar branch which was constructed when the archive was in-house at the company’s then HQ at Stamford Street, London SE1.  (20th August 2014)
Drg copyright J. Sainsbury
Service branch plan c 1920's
Service branch plan c 1920’s
Starting to sort out the disposition of buildings and features.
The Southern Railway station will be at the LH end of the layout with part of the platforms on the bridge over the main street.
At the RH end a roundabout connection to the arterial road. (Kingston By Pass?)
In between, a conventional for the period, shopping parade.  Tobacconist, ABC (Aerated Bread Company) Cadena cafe, Walton’s the fruiterer; Timothy Whites & Taylor’s, W.H.Smith,  (side road) J. Sainsbury Provision Merchants, Boot’s The Chemists, Dewhurst’s, possibly a Woolworth’s.
I hope I can get that all in! (15th July 2014)
A relatively new Kingsway kit of Staines LT bus depot has been ordered which I feel best represents the type of garage this area would have had. I think there are a few more of the newer  Kingsway kits that might be suitable for “populating” the layout with typical suburban buildings of the period (December 2021)
Obtained a bargain copy of “The Elephant never forgot”* a general, mainly photographic history of London’s first generation tram system which closed finally in 1952
There is also a section on the Croydon Tramlink opened in May 2000 and other as yet unfulfilled schemes of is extension to Crystal Palace and the separate West London tram scheme. The latter was killed off by much the same arguments used in preventing the original tram system from entering the “posh” areas of West London 100+ years earlier.
(*The name of a documentary made to record the passing of the London Tram system, made by British Transport Films in 1952/3)
This will be a useful book for getting the feel of the era
A snip at £8.50!  (16th September 2014)
WORK TO RESTART- December 2020/January 2021/December2021
 As the baseboard exists and some trackwork has been laid it seems right that work should restart , but almost certainly  not as a group project, but as a personal  project, which could be used by the MVRM members for operational experience The layout allows plenty of opportunity to both scratch-build buildings and build appropriate kits.
I will add progress photos and plans at some point.
The layout is to be converted to a “home layout” but retaining the  legs and possibly the lighting canopy  Also all access to be from the front,because the layout will be mounted backing onto  free standing timber shelving units/bench. This  will require some modification to give front access of the turning circles at each end.
In the wish to recreate the scenes of trams passing through a medieval city gate, as per the Bar Gate in Southampton, I have obtained a Metclalfe kit of a castle gate which will no doubt require some modification, to accept double decker trams. The reasoning for such a castle in this part of suburban Surrey, will require much more work!
Some fairly major re-arrangement needed in the room for this layouts relocation which I hope to start soon. Work on the layout can then recommence


January 2017/ March 2017  Re-arrangement/ some re-writing of existing text
January 2019 Further revisions and additions/ Late June 2019- update on layout status to personal project/ Oct 2020 Conversion to home layout/Minor revisions Dec 2020 & Feb2021/ December 2021/January 2022