Ken Sherwood's ...

KenAymess Stn..JPG (55709 bytes)  KenAymess Crossing 3.JPG (54817 bytes)  KenAymess Village 1.JPG (50683 bytes)  KenAymess Village.JPG (49550 bytes)  KenClass50 at Palaver Tunnel3.JPG (36576 bytes)  KenCoaling Stage.JPG (54711 bytes)  KenP1010018.JPG (50486 bytes)   KenPalaver Forecourt.JPG (50164 bytes)    KenPuylup Crossing 2.JPG (61908 bytes)  KenTimber Yard 1.JPG (49620 bytes)    KenPullup Crossing.JPG (65984 bytes)               KenP1010022.JPG (71243 bytes)     KenP1010043.JPG (57996 bytes)                   


Aymess and Palaver Preservation Railway


What’s in a Name?

When my sons were young, one had an interest in British Railways and the other in North American ones. So I built a simple two-station layout for them to play with. One station was British, and because at the time BR was “a mess” the station name became Aymess. The other was a NA station and reflected the propensity of Americans to talk too much, and was named Palaver. Boys being boys they liked to crash opposing locos, and so caused “pile ups”. Hence the name Puyallup for the station Halt.


In the sixties I had dabbled in railroad models as an adjunct to my main hobby of building flying model aircraft. All modelling was put on the back burner for many years as my job required travelling throughout Europe. However the ‘Railway’ bug had bitten, and thus whenever I was in the UK I bought steam locos. but not having ever used train travel in the UK, -  apart from a few short trips on the ‘Marlow Donkey’ - I built up an eclectic mix of locos. Upon resuming modelling I had very little knowledge (nothings changed there}, and even less loyalty to a given railway area, so how to justify these locos all running on the same rails. As Preservation Railways seemed to be springing up all over the UK it seemed logical to turn the Aymess  & Palaver Railway into the Aymess & Palaver Preservation Railway. In it’s first few incarnations I created my own decals for both passenger and goods locos along with a Company motto of “Trust in Us You Have No Choice”

As I started to read more about the regional railways I took a fancy to the WR and the GWR, which led me to dispose of many locos, retaining only those to be found on GWR or BR Western Region rails. The result has been that although the APPR is not based on any ‘real location’, it is assumed to lie between Berkshire and Wiltshire, it does broadly follow GWR practice. With only a few exceptions all trains are pre 1970, and where possible are actually preserved around the UK.

On retiring to Rockwood I built version five of the APPR which was somewhat experimental trying out various scenic techniques. There then followed a few years when the modelling stopped! However when Mike Walton invited me to be one of ‘The Lively Lads,’ running Lostock , my enthusiasm was rekindled, but then off he went to Germany, ….so


With the modelling ‘bug’ now restored, I decided to build APPR Mk.Six using some of Mikes design principles, and with the following parameters in mind:  -

1.Within a 16’ square, to have a length of run that would allow 3 or 4 trains to run at one time without obvious tail chasing. This has been achieved by making, essentially, a ‘dog bone’ bent over three levels. As a result trains can take from 3 to 6mins to complete a full circuit.

2.To have double track main line running. Although a single-track line, the folded dog bone gives the appearance of a double track mainline.

3.To provide interest and present operational challenges for two or three operators, and the potential for timetable operation.

There is about 400’ of running line, in an ‘out and back’ format, which starts at the upper terminus  of  Palaver, then  passes through the middle level station at Aymess, and on to the lower level at Puyallup Halt. The lower levels may be used for continuous running with the Aymess loop used to reverse trains for returning to Palaver terminus.

The upper level terminus of Palaver, has associated loco facilities, consisting of a 2-road shed, a Coaling Stage, and 78ft turntable.. 


Operation Sequences.

Trains leave Palaver, then: -

 1.Short Route.

Traverse the Main Loop (via Puyallup) and return to Palaver Terminus.

2.Intermediate Route.

Go round the Main Loop then cross over from the Up Line into Aymess Platform 1. Leaving Aymess on the Inner Loop trains go to Platform 3 before taking the Reversing Loop onto the Down Line and return to Palaver.

3. Long Distance.

As in (2) but from Platform 3 take the Outer Loop, which returns the train to platform2. On departing Platform 2 go out onto cross over onto Down Line and return to Palaver.


For continuous running, cross from the Up line back onto Inner Loop to Aymess 3.  




The layout wiring is straight forward, being wired under conventional Cab Control with blocks operated by SPDT switches. Because of the size of the layout, wiring is all colour coded using telephone wire, this gives up to thirty colour pairings. On each baseboard there are block terminals which allows for easy trouble shooting. Each block within the layout can accommodate two rakes consisting  of loco plus six coaches.

Points  use ‘push to make’ buttons, operating a mixture of H & M, PECO and Seep point motors. Capacitor Discharge Units are used to ensure that multiple point motors can be thrown at one time. The Double Slips and Three Way point use diode matrices for control and Crossovers are joined electrically thus allowing single button operation in all cases.


I have tried to create an environment in which the railway operates. Hence there is Palaver Village with its small High Street, and in the background we have Aymess Town with  associated suburbs. The layout has more road traffic – cars and lorries- than most layouts mainly to enhance the overall atmosphere. Stations have connecting roads and some industry to justify the road traffic. To add interest, there are several dioramas within the layout. At the present time there is only basic scenery and there is a lot to be done in creating grasslands, trees and general background detail. On the railway itself the major work is to build and add signalling as well as railway signage.



These are a mixture of card kits from Superquick and Metcalfe( suitably modified and weathered ) along with some scratch built buildings. The latter comprise a Coaling Stage and Engine shed based on Didcot; a timber framed Goods Shed of Campdon; Aymess Station modelled after High Wycombe -complete with detailed interior , a waste of time as you can’t see it, and the freelance builders yard of Rackham and Sherwood.


My layout does not pretend to be a true representation of the GWR but more, to use a painting analogy, an impressionist view rather than the finely detailed work of the highly skilled finescale modeller. But even in the latter, trains arrive and depart through stations populated by figures frozen in time, the crew never move, the regulator is fixed, and the steam locomotive is powered by an electric motor. Wagons move into sidings with nary a ‘human shunter’ to ensure the brakes are set. So in the end no matter how well detailed, or not, it is only a model. Perhaps all we can hope for is that however we model, there is enough creativity for the overall impression to be plausible, pleasing and fun to operate.